Posts Tagged ‘Portugal’

Day nineteen brought the end of round two and now we have a few days off before the Quarter-finals this weekend.  Surprisingly, the Paraguay – Japan game was more exciting than Spain – Portugal.  If Portugal had showed up to play, that game would’ve been tops.

Paraguay continues to do enough to get by and now they’re in the Quarters for the first time in their history.  Too bad they don’t have enough fire power to make it past Spain in the next round.

On to the games:

Paraguay – Japan (0-0), (5-3 PSO)

I was surprised that this was the only game that went to a penalty shootout.  Usually in round two, the teams start to tighten up and the goals dry up.  It didn’t happen in South Africa and the games were more enjoyable.  Here’s hoping teams continue to go to goal to win games and not get conservative hoping to go to penalty kicks.

Paraguay had the edge in time of possession but the actual chances on goal were about even.  Japan is lucky that Marcus Tulio Tanaka’s (Nagoya Grampus Eight) clearance late in the game didn’t go into their own net.  Both goalies were very good.

Daisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow) had a great game and was named Man of the Match.  He should get some looks from bigger clubs in Europe.  I still wonder why Shunsuke Nakamara (Yokohama F Marinos) couldn’t get into this game or even get more minutes in this tournament.  Honda and Nakamura would’ve been hard to cover.  You could bottle up one but not both.

This match came down to Yuichi Komano (Jubilo Iwata) missing his penalty kick.  Komano hit the crossbar on Japan’s third shot.  Oscar Cardozo (Benfica) hit Paraguay’s fifth penalty and Japan’s run came to an end.  Japan over-achieved in this tournament and it looks like they will have a lot of turnover by the time Brazil 2014 comes around.  About twelve players from this team most likely won’t be around for the next World Cup.

Spain-Portugal (1-0)

Goal – Villa (ESP) 63’

Red Card – Ricardo Costa (POR) 89’

Spain controlled this game from start to finish.  They had a 63% time of possession and three times as many shots on goal.  Where was Portugal?  Carlos Queiroz decided that Portugal needed to go 4-3-3 but why?  Wouldn’t a player like Deco (Chelsea) have been better in a 4-4-2 than having Hugo Almeida (Werder Bremen) playing out of position as the third forward?  Or, why not have Danny (Zenit St. Petersburg) or Liedson (Sporting Lisbon) in as forwards with Simao (Atletico Madrid) and just have Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) play as a midfielder behind the two forwards?  This game isn’t that difficult to figure out.

David Villa (Barcelona) scored his fourth goal of this World Cup and now he’s tied with Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid) as the top scorer in the tournament.  Villa just seems to be in the right place at the right time.  He was in perfect position on the goal.  No, he wasn’t offsides, he was even with the last defender.  That’s how you play the game.  Thankfully, one of the bad linesman didn’t screw it up.

This is how the Quarter-finals stack up:

Uruguay-Ghana

Netherlands – Brazil

Argentina – Germany

Paraguay – Spain

All these games should keep our attention.  Netherlands – Brazil and Argentina – Germany should have a Finals like feel.

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Day eighteen is in the books and Brazil and the Netherlands continue to roll.  Should be a good game this weekend when these two teams meet in the Quarter-finals.  Brazil looks too good at this point to say that they won’t win the whole thing.  Argentina is good but can they get past Germany in the Quarters?  Germany also make a case but don’t underestimate how bad England was when you look at the final score.  This weekend is going to be awesome!

On to the games:

Netherlands – Slovakia (2-1)

Goals – Robben (NED) 18’, Sneijder (NED) 84’, Vittek (SVK) 90’+4

Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) gets the start after his performance as a sub in the last group game.  Who did he replace?  You guessed it, Rafael Van Der Vaart (Real Madrid).  I’m pretty sure I said something about that before.  Robben is back in form and that’s dangerous to whoever has to play this Dutch team.

Bad news for Brazil?

Slovakia are just too young and inexperienced to really make a dent in the Netherlands’ hope of advancing.  Midfielder Vladimir Weiss (Manchester City) was back in the lineup for Slovakia.  God knows why?  If this team can stay together, I can see this team making noise in Euro 2012 and Brazil 2014.

On a side note, I was watching CNN International this morning because that’s the only news channel I get that’s not in Korean.  Woe is me.  CNN is terrible and especially terrible when it comes to sports.  CNN probably hasn’t been relevant on the sports scene since the late 80’s.  I wish we could get BBC or SKY but I don’t think it’s happening.  I was watching the highlights and Mark McKay called Arjen Robben, Aryan Robben.  I’m pretty sure it’s not Aryan.  Then you have Pedro Pinto overenunciating all the Latin/Spanish names and also naming those players by their nickname or using their middle name.  Diego Maradona is Diego Armando Maradona and Gonzalo Higuain is Gonzalo Pipito Higuain.  I don’t know what’s worse, CNN’s World Cup coverage or the biased ESPN coverage?  Poor CNN, they try so hard.

Breaking news: No one cares about CNN

Brazil – Chile (3-0)

Goals – Juan (BRA) 35’, Luis Fabiano (BRA) 38’, Robinho (BRA) 59’

Losing defenders Waldo Ponce (Univ. Catolica) and Gary Medel (Boca Juniors) to suspension didn’t help Chile.  The return of Kaka (Real Madrid) was a bad sign too.  Just too much Brazil.  Chile came out in a 4-3-3 and Mark Gonzalez (CSKA Moscow) finally got the start up front but that was short-lived.  Bielsa came to his senses and brought in midfielder Jorge Valdivia (Al Ain) to replace Gonzalez right after halftime and changed back to a 4-4-2.

This Brazil team seems to be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want.  That game against North Korea was just an anomaly.  The Netherlands are next but it remains to be seen if midfielders Elano (Galatasaray), Felipe Melo (Juventus) or Julio Baptista (AS Roma) will be back from injury by then.  Brazil went 5-3-2 in this game but if any of those players can be fit before the Netherlands game, there’s no reason they won’t go to a straight 4-4-2 formation.  We’ll see.

Luis Fabiano is the real deal

Tonight it’s Paraguay – Japan and Spain – Portugal.  I don’t have a clue who’s gonna win these games.  Paraguay has been solid but Japan has surprised me with how good they can play and defend.  I like Portugal in the second game but that’s just my gut.  Should be fun.

Day fifteen brought the last games of round one.  Group G was pretty much set but Group H had everything to play for.  Spain, Chile and Switzerland all had legitimate shots at advancing but only two could make it.  Sorry Switzerland.  The round of sixteen is complete and it only includes one African team, Ghana.  It’s actually one more African team than I thought would make it.  The South Americans did extremely well but the Europeans had a bit of trouble.

On to the games:

Portugal – Brazil (0-0)

The game was very chippy in the first half with both teams picking up a total of seven yellow cards.  It seemed as if both teams really hated each other.  Brazil was in charge in the first half.  They had 63% of the possession and looked like they really wanted to win, even thought they didn’t really need to.  Portugal looked lost in the first half.  They could only chase Brazil around the pitch.

The second half was way different.  Both teams seemed to back off and looked content with a draw.  Portugal had the better of the chances but it wasn’t  very exciting soccer to watch.  I think both teams realized that they couldn’t afford more yellows and to lose players for the next game.

North Korea – Ivory Coast (0-3)

Goals – Yaya Toure (CIV) 14′, Romaric (CIV) 20′, Kalou (CIV) 82′

Ivory Coast knew they technically still had a chance to advance but realistically it wasn’t going to happen.  North Korea only had 39% of the possession and never really threatened.  Nice to see Salomon Kalou (Chelsea) finally do something in this tournament.  Another Sven Goran Eriksson team doesn’t live up to the hype.  Typical!

Chile – Spain (1-2)

Goals – Villa (ESP) 24′, Iniesta (ESP) 37′, Millar (CHI) 47′

Red Card – Estrada (CHI) 37′

This was the game that was probably going to be the most hard-fought of the day.  It was.  The long-range shot by David Villa (Barcelona) was sick.  What was the Chilean goalie thinking?  Spain bounce back from the opening game loss to the Swiss and win the group.  Defenders Waldo Ponce (Univ. Catolica) and Gary Medel (Boca Juniors) will miss Chile’s round of sixteen game against Brazil.  Spain has a meeting with Portugal waiting for them in the next round and Chile meets Brazil.

Switzerland – Honduras (0-0)

Switzerland just couldn’t figure out how to score against a weak Honduras team and that’s why they’re going home.  Not much else to say.

Standings

Team (points)

Group A:

Uruguay (7), Mexico (4),  South Africa (4), France (1) – Uruguay and Mexico advance

Group B:

Argentina (9), South Korea (4), Greece (3), Nigeria (1) – Argentina and South Korea advance

Group C:

USA (5), England (5),  Slovenia (4), Algeria (1) – USA and England advance

Group D:

Germany (6), Ghana (4), Australia (4), Serbia (3) – Germany and Ghana advance

Group E:

Netherlands (9), Japan (6), Denmark (3), Cameroon (0) – Netherlands and Japan advance

Group F:

Paraguay (5), Slovakia (4), New Zealand (3), Italy (2) – Paraguay and Slovakia advance

Group G

Brazil (7), Portugal (5), Ivory Coast (4), North Korea (0) – Brazil and Portugal advance

Group H

Spain (6), Chile (6), Switzerland (4),  Honduras (1) – Spain and Chile advance

Day eleven is in the books and all three winning teams never really looked in danger.  Portugal clobbered North Korea, Chile handled Switzerland and Spain dominated Honduras.  North Korea is eliminated from the tournament and no one would complain if they just packed up and left.

On to the games:

Portugal – North Korea (7-0)

Goals – Raul Meireles (POR) 29’, Simao (POR) 29’, Hugo Almeida (POR) 56’, Tiago (POR) 60’ & 89’, Liedson (POR) 81’, Cristiano Ronaldo (POR) 89’

Yes, Portugal scored seven goals in a World Cup game.  Not much to say about this game.  Portugal did what Brazil should’ve done in their first game against North Korea.  How did Brazil not score ten?

North Korea were the darlings of the soccer world last week for hanging on against Brazil.  This week they’re a farce, just like this game.  It got out of hand at 53’ and I seriously started to feel sorry for North Korea after it was 5-0.  It was as if anything near the North Korean goal was going in.  I thought Benny Hill music was gonna start playing.  The North Korean “fans”….I mean plants…didn’t know what was going on.

From deadspin.com – “I guess 1966 shall remain unavenged. However, the next time North Korea sees a Portuguese battleship they are totally gonna sink it.”

Anyone remember when the Ivory Coast players were sent to a military camp after they were eliminated from the 2000 African Cup of Nations?  I fear for the North Korean players’ safety.  On the other hand, it’s not like anyone in North Korea knows this game even happened.  Actually, North Korea was pleased with their performance against Brazil that they decided to broadcast the game.  OOOPS!!!

7-0? Watch your backs when you get home

Brazil is already through but Portugal and Ivory Coast are still alive for a spot in the next round.  Technically Ivory Coast is still alive.  Brazil has to beat Portugal, possible.  Ivory Coast has to beat North Korea, most likely.  The only problem is that if both those things happen, the Ivory Coast would have to make up a nine goal difference between themselves and Portugal, no f’n way.  Portugal is +7 on goal difference and the Ivory Coast is -2.  Another African team fails to see the next round.

Chile – Switzerland (1-0)

Goal – Gonzalez (CHI) 75’

Red Card – Behrami (SUI) 31’

Both teams came into this game on three points but let’s be honest, Switzerland got lucky and beat Spain while Chile is a solid, dangerous team.  Chile dominated this game in every way.  Having Switzerland down to ten men for about an hour made their life easier.

Mark Gonzalez (CSKA Moscow) scored the winner for Chile but there was one problem.  Esteban Paredes (Colo Colo) was offsides when he received the pass on the right wing before eventually passing it to Gonzalez.  Hello linesman!  I think the refereeing has been better than expected in this World Cup but the linesman have been below average.  I’m constantly seeing linesman running behind the play, catching up and raising the offsides flag.  How do you see the offsides when you’re not even in line with the last defender?  The opposite is that they are in position and they don’t call it when it happens.  Terrible!

Spain – Honduras (2-0)

Goals – Villa (ESP) 17′ & 51′

How did Spain not drop a seven on Honduras?  David Villa (Barcelona) scored two but he also missed and penalty and rattled the post from long-range.  It was all Spain all the time.  Honduras had nine “shots” but none of them were actually on goal.  Spain seems to have bounced back from the shock defeat at the hands of Switzerland.  Spanish coach Vincente Del Bosque finally came to his senses and started the dangerous Fernando Torres (Liverpool).

You really should've scored more goals

Everyone is alive in this group but if I’m Honduras I’m not making any hotel reservations for the next round.  That plane ticket probably doesn’t need to be changed.

Standings

Team (points)

Group A:

Uruguay (4), Mexico (4),  France (1), South Africa (1)

Group B:

Argentina (6), South Korea (3), Greece (3), Nigeria (0)

Group C:

Slovenia (4), USA (2), England (2), Algeria (1)

Group D:

Ghana (4), Germany (3), Serbia (3), Australia (1)

Group E:

Netherlands (6), Japan (3), Denmark (3), Cameroon (0) – Netherlands advance, Cameroon eliminated

Group F:

Paraguay (4), Italy (2), New Zealand (2), Slovakia (1)

Group G

Brazil (6), Portugal (4), Ivory Coast (1), North Korea (0) – Brazil advance, North Korea eliminated

Group H

Chile (6), Spain (3), Switzerland (3),  Honduras (0)

Day six didn’t have me excited.  Sure, the Ivory Coast – Portugal match looked like a good one but with an injured Didier Drogba (Chelsea), that game lost a little bit of it’s luster.  Slovakia should’ve run all over New Zealand and Brazil should’ve thrashed North Korea.  I thought we would see the worst two teams in the World Cup in New Zealand and North Korea.  All the games were just, meh!  It’s hard for me to write a post for these games because they were so underwhelming.  Being the consummate professional, I’ll give it a go.

On to the games:

New Zealand – Slovakia (1-1)

Goals – Vittek (SVK) 50’, Reid (NZL) 90’+3

Looking at New Zealand’s formation before the game I didn’t think there would be too many goals.  New Zealand showed a 5-2-3 lineup and that’s not good for scoring.  Sure you have three forwards but with most players playing defense how would they get the ball?  As the game progressed, it changed into more of a 3-4-3 formation.  It may not seem important but why would you throw three forwards out there with no one to really to help get them the ball?

Slovakia was losing balls left and right through 15’  New Zealand were doing just enough in the early going but Slovakia started to turn it up at around 30’.  Marek Hamsik (Napoli) had a nice chance from the top of the box at 44’ but goalie Mark Paston (Wellington Phoenix) tipped it over the goal.  New Zealand doing well in the first half, a million times better than Australia showed against Germany.

The New Zealand defense looked shaky to start the 2nd half and Slovakia made them pay when Robert Vittek (Ankaragucu) scored at 49’.  After that, Slovakia seemed to be content with the goal and really weren’t interested in getting another.  Bad move.  New Zealand looked to be interested in getting a point at 78’ by bringing in midfielder Jeremy Christie (Tampa Bay) for defender Ivan Vicelich (Auckland City).  Slovakia continued to defend for the rest of the half but did look dangerous whenever they could be bothered to go forward.

In the dying seconds of the game, Winston Reid (Midtjylland) scored and New Zealand got their first ever World Cup point.  Slovakia only have themselves to blame for not walking out of this game with maximum points.  They put the brakes on instead of going for the kill.  Goal difference and goals scored could come into play when the group round is over and if Slovakia just misses out on advancing, they can look at this game as to why.

In case you didn't know, this is Winston Reid

Ivory Coast – Portugal (0-0)

Will Drogba start?  Will Drogba play?  If Drogba plays, will he be his usual self?  So many question.  The answers: no, yes, yes.  I thought Drogba would be feeling the effects of the elbow injury but he looked good in his 34+ minutes on the pitch.

Both teams moved the ball well, defended well and had plenty of chances.  Possession, shots and shots on goal were very similar.  Nothing really stuck out in this game.  Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) was man of the match but maybe because they had to give it to someone.

Man of the Match Cristiano Ronaldo - Couldn't they just not have awarded it?

The few things I remember is that there were some bad tattoos and really bad hair in this game.  Not just this game but this has to be the some of the worst collection of tattoos and hair in one sporting event.

Brazil – North Korea (2-1)

Goals – Maicon (BRA) 55’, Elano (BRA) 72’, Ji Yun Nam (89)

Brazil had 63% of the possession, 26 shots and 10 shots on goal and still could only beat North Korea 2-1.  Even though they lost, North Korea came away from this game looking and feeling good.  The media back in Brazil is probably killing this team right now.

The goals from Maicon (Inter) and Elano (Galatasaray) were two of the best in the tournament but they really should have scored about five.  North Korea’s goal came when Ji Yun Nam (April 25) went through three Brazilian defenders to the left of goal and rocketed a shot into the net.  Brazil’s defense was half-assing it on the play and they paid for it.

Ji Yun Nam - I bet a statue is being erected somewhere in Pyongyang

Ivory Coast is up next for Brazil and they better bring their A game because Ivory Coast can run and cause problems.  Good for you North Korea, you captured the hearts of the soccer world and maybe now you can go home after this World Cup instead of being sent directly to some sort of labor camp.

Standings

Team (points)

Group A:

South Africa (1), Mexico (1), Uruguay (1), France (1)

Group B:

South Korea (3), Argentina (3), Nigeria (0), Greece (0)

Group C:

Slovenia (3), USA (1), England (1), Algeria (0)

Group D:

Germany (3), Ghana (3), Serbia (0), Australia (0)

Group E:

Netherlands (3), Japan (3), Cameroon (0), Denmark (0)

Group F:

Paraguay (1), Italy (1), New Zealand (1), Slovakia (1)

Group G

Brazil (3), Ivory Coast (1), Portugal (1), North Korea (0)