Posts Tagged ‘Vuvuzela’

The World Cup is over and Spain are your new Champions.  First Euro 2008 and now this?  I guess we have to respect Spain in international competitions now and not wait for them to eventually choke.  The Final was probably one of the best deciding games since I can remember (1982).  Both teams wanted to win and not just play conservatively, hoping they could put the ball in the net while not really going forward.  Both teams gave it a go but one goal was all it took.  Thank God we didn’t go to penalties because this game was just too good to be decided like that.

Spain: Your 2010 World Cup Champions

On to the game:

Netherlands – Spain (0-1 aet)

Goal – Iniesta (ESP) 116’

Red Card – Heitinga (NED) 109’

Before the match, referee Howard Webb’s wife said she was surprised her husband got the call to be the Final’s ref because he can’t even control his kids at home.  Funny, but she was right.  He was not in control of this game.  The players cared very little if they were getting a yellow card or not.  It’s the Final and there’s no tomorrow so if you have to foul, foul hard and don’t worry about jawing at the ref, all he can do is give you a yellow.  Webb was giving out card like they were going out of style, fourteen in all, including a red to John Heitinga (Everton) for his second yellow of the game.  Webb had no control of a game that most referees would’ve had trouble with.  Did he do a good job?  Kind of.  A red earlier in the game would have put an end to the chippy play.  Otherwise, he did about as good as anyone could have in same situation.

The statistics say Spain had 57% of the possession but watching it I thought it was much closer than that.  Spain would go on runs where the Netherlands couldn’t put anything together and then the Netherlands would control the ball and have Spain on it’s heels.  Spain had more shots, 19 to 13, but the actual shots on goal were only 6 to 5 in favor of Spain.  Maybe it was that sixth shot that made the difference.

Both teams looked as if they could’ve played another ninety minutes but as soon as Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) scored at 116’, Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) and the rest of the Dutch players had a look of disbelief and all the energy was sucked out of them.  Robben lay on the ground, shaking his head and looking like a man defeated.  It didn’t matter that four minutes plus injury time were left on the clock.  They just didn’t have the will to fight anymore.  One second more was one second too much.

Iniesta will probably never have to buy another drink in Spain, ever.

I don’t understand what Netherlands coach Bert Van Marwijk was thinking with his substitutions?  Now’s the part of the post where I second guess the coach and tell you how I would’ve done things better.

The first substitution was Eljero Elia (Hamburger SV) in for Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool) at 71’.  So a forward playing as a midfielder was taken out for a forward who likes playing midfield.  Why?  Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) was the only true forward on the pitch for Holland and he managed to get all of one shot on goal and it wasn’t even on target.  Wesley Sneijder (Inter) and Robin were doing all of the work of front and Van Persie was along for the ride.  Why not bring in Klaas Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan).  I know I extolled the virtues of Elia in an earlier post but that was then and this is the Finals.  Huntelaar is a proven goal scorer who actually scored in one of his sub appearances.  Maybe Kuyt was spent but Van Persie needed to go at that point.  Kuyt probably worked as hard as anyone this whole World Cup.

Substitution number two was Rafael Van Der Vaart (Real Madrid) for Nigel De Jong (Manchester City) at 99’.  So a holding midfielder was taken out for an attacking midfielder.  Why?  Again, why was Van Persie allowed to stay on when he obviously wasn’t doing anything except accusing the Spanish players of diving.  In the twenty-eight minutes since Elia came in, Robben and Sneijder were still carrying Van Persie.  I’m not saying De Jong should’ve stayed in but Huntelaar would’ve worked in that situation also.

The third and final substitution was defender Edson Braafheid (Celtic) for defender Giovanni Van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord) at 105’.  Van Bronckhorst was probably out of gas by then but why bring in unused Braafheid when you have proven defenders in Andre Ooijer (PSV Eindhoven) and Khalid Boulahrouz (VfB Stuttgart) on the bench?  Both played well when they were called on to start in earlier games.  Puzzling call.  Not to say that Braafheid caused the Netherlands to lose but I would’ve went with a more experienced player at that time of the game.  Braafheid doesn’t see any action all World Cup and then you expect him to play in the last fifteen minutes of the whole tournament.  Again, why?

Congrats to Spain.  The shook off an opening game defeat to Switzerland to win the whole thing.  No way this team was the best team in the tournament but they played like it.  You’d think a team with this many great names would’ve scored more goals but whatever they did was effective.

One question for Vincente Del Bosque, how many times were you going to let Pedro (Barcelona) do nothing on the pitch before you decided that maybe Fernando Torres (Liverpool, for now) should’ve started instead.  Pedro is a good player but not in this tournament.  Plus, the first sub for Spain was forward Jesus Navas (Sevilla) for Pedro.  Jesus Navas?  You have Torres, Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao) and Juan Manuel Mata (Valencia) and you choose Navas?  Really?  Torres finally came in at 106’ for a nearly dead David Villa (Barcelona).  A bit late don’t you think?  Luckily Iniesta bailed him out or he would’ve had to explain why he made or didn’t make those moves.

In the Third Place game, Germany beat Uruguay 3-2.  I won’t talk about it much because the Third Place Game really doesn’t mean much unless your from Uruguay or Germany or whoever is involved in this game.  Germany fought back from 2-1 down to win the game.  Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid) scored one for Uruguay and Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich) got one back for Germany.  With that, Forlan wins the Goldon Ball for tournament’s MVP and Mueller wins the Golden Boot for the World Cup’s leading scorer (five goals, three assists).  Mueller also picks up the Best Young Player award.  Teams are lining up to sign Mueller, who’s only twenty years old.

We're gonna be hearing alot from Mueller for years to come

All in all it was a great World Cup.  South Africa should be proud.  There were no glaring problems and the tournament went off without a hitch.  Hopefully the vuvzela can be banned before the next World Cup.  Interesting note:  New Zealand is the only team not to lose a game in this tournament.  Good for you All Whites.  I picked you to be one of the worst teams coming in.

See you in four years time.  Look for my preview somewhere around June 1, 2014.  Thanks and I hope you enjoyed following this tournament with me.  I saw all sixty-four games and they weren’t all great but it was fun writing about them.  Thanks to Aidan and Joe S. for all the feedback.

I can't believe I have to wait four years!

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Monday’s games were all entertaining but the trend of sloppy play continues.  I know not everyone is Argentina but why are so many passes and crosses being missed?  Is it the ball or are the players just a bit off.  Maybe a little bit of both.  The ball seems to just fly off the players’ feet.  I have a strange feeling that we won’t see a brilliant spot kick that just curls into the goal anytime soon.  The ball is not coming down like it usually does.

The Netherlands – Denmark game was the marquee matchup on the day but most fans had to see how the defending champs, Italy, would fare against Paraguay.  Netherlands – Denmark didn’t disappoint and Italy needs a little work.  In other news, Japan didn’t do much but managed to beat Cameroon.

On to the games:

Netherlands – Denmark (2-0)

Goals – Agger (DEN) 46’ og, Kuyt (NED) 85’

I was surprised the Netherlands coach Bert Van Marwijk decided to go 4-5-1 and leave Klaas Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan) on the bench.  But hey, he’s the coach and he can do whatever he wants.  The first 20’ of this game went back and forth and it was a bit sloppy.  Denmark was the (slightly) better team in the first half even though the Netherlands had most of the possession in the half.  Danes Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal) at 27’, Dennis Rommedahl (Ajax) at 36’ and Thomas Kahlenberg (Wolfsburg) at 36’ all had quality shots on goal but were unable to get it in the net.

To start the second half, Dane Simon Poulsen (AZ Alkmaar) wanted to head away a cross out of the box but instead headed into the back of teammate Daniel Agger (Liverpool) which went into the Denmark goal.  1-0, just like that.  It looked bad.  Looks like Poulsen wanted to flick it away but it caught him by surprise and it hit off the side of his head.  Actually, this is probably the first and last time I really noticed Agger.  Not good.

Oops!!!

Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) had a few chances for the Netherlands but he doesn’t like to shoot until the moment is just right.  Too bad the defenders moved when it was.  Van Persie is lucky he didn’t get his second yellow at 60’ when he kept playing and shot after the referee blew the whistle for offsides.  He blamed the vuvuzela’s but I think he’s just a punk.

A limping Bendtner was replaced at 61’ by Mikkel Beckmann (Randers).  Bendtner is coming off an injury and he didn’t look too good coming off.  Eljero Elia (Hamburger SV) came on for  Rafael Van Der Vaart (Real Madrid) at 67’ and immediately caused trouble for the Danish defense.  Elia is fast and has tons of moves.  Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool) closed the scoring at 85’ when Elias’ shot bounced off the post and right on to his foot.  Tap in.  Game over.

The Netherlands were miles better in the second half and Denmark never recovered from the own goal.  I expected Denmark to lose this game but they should do better against Japan and Cameroon.  Both these teams still go through.  Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) was on the bench nursing an injury to his leg.  I’m not sure when/if he’ll return.

Japan – Cameroon (1-0)

Goal – Honda (JPN) 39′

Japan is not the team it used to be and looking at their players it looked as if they’d be lucky to get a point.  Thanks Cameroon, you just made Japan’s World Cup.  I wonder if Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen (retread) has ever seen Samuel Eto’o (Inter) play before this game.  If he had, he would never have put him on the right wing let alone keep him there for the whole game.  Explain to me how one of the best goal scorers in the world isn’t playing in the center of the field and why is he crossing into the box instead of being on the end of those crosses?

This guy isn't a winger, he scores goals...lots of them

Cameroon controlled the play, had more time of possession, more corner kicks, and more than double the shots, and lost.  Why was Shunsuke Nakamura (Yokohama F Marinos) on the bench when clearly he’s one of the best midfielders on this team?  Heck, let’s throw Asia in there as well.  After Japan scored in the first half they looked like they didn’t need or didn’t want to score again.  Whenever Cameroon had the ball, there were ten Japanese players behind it.

At 82′ Makoto Hasebe (Wolfsburg) had a nice shot that Cameroon keeper Hamidou Souleymanou (Kayserispor) had to work to save.  The rebound went to Shinji Okazaki (Shimizu S-Pulse) but his shot hit the post.  There’s been a lot of post shots this World Cup already.  At 85′ Stephane Mbia (Marseille) hit a rocket that beat the keeper but clanged off the post.  Unlucky.

Japan will be happy with the result because this might be the only one they get.  Cameroon will be wondering how they let this slip away.  They needed this because the Dutch and the Danes will be much harder to handle.

Italy – Paraguay (1-1)

Goals – Alcazar (PAR) 39′, De Rossi (ITA) 63′

Italy are the reigning World Cup champs but they started the game like any other Italian teams, slowly.  Paraguay literally had one shot on goal and made the most of it.  Paraguay was better in the first half but Italy remembered how to play in the second and had the South Americans on their heels for the last forty-five minutes.  The Italian lineup was not impressive and neither was their bench.  Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan) was on the bench but injured so he wasn’t gonna see any action anyway.  This has to be one of the weakest Italian teams in a long time.

The game was very chippy with a lot of whistled.  Surprisingly, there weren’t many yellows.  The first 20’s were very sloppy but the pitch was wet so I’ll cut both teams a little slack.  Unsurprisingly, Alberto Gilardino (Fiorentina) was not a factor in this game.  He can’t play on the big stage, ask AC Milan fans.  I would go with Fabio Qauagliarella (Napoli) or Antonio Di Natale (Udinese) in the next game but that’s just me.

Don't expect too much from Gilardino in big games

Giorgio Chiellini’s (Juventus) stupid foul on Nelson Valdez (Borussia Dortmund) at 37′ led to Paraguay’s goal.  Antolin Alcaraz (Club Brugge) headed in the free kick and it was 1-0.  To make matters worse, Italy’s keeper, Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus) injured his back in the first half and had to be replaced by Federico Marchetti (Cagliari) to start the second half.  Buffon says he’ll be back for the next game but we’ll see.

Italy dominated the second half and Paraguay was lucky they only scored one goal.  Mauro Camoranesi (Juventus) replaced Claudio Marchiso (Juventus) and immediately brought a spark to this team.  I expect Camoranesi to start the next game.  At 63′ Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma) knocked in a  goal from a corner and the Italians were saved from embarrassment.

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 and Slovakia have not played

After a great day of soccer on Saturday, the first two games on Sunday tried their hardest to set the game of soccer back.  Luckily, Germany were their usual, machine self and brought a nice end to the day’s matches.  Algeria – Slovenia and Serbia – Ghana weren’t gonna bring any new fans to the sport and most likely strengthened the argument against soccer.  This argument only takes place in the USA because the rest of the world is already on board.

The horns are still annoying but not just because of the constant buzzing sound throughout the game.  Those damn Vuvuzelas completely drown out the crowd noise so you can’t hear the supporters in the stands when something big happens.  The crowd reaction and atmosphere are a big part of my enjoyment and I’m getting none of it.  Luckily, the Korean announcers on SBS are very energetic and exciteable or else I might as well watch the game with the sound off.  There’s word that the World Cup organizing committee would consider banning the vuvuzela from inside the stadiums but only if necessary.  It’s so necessary.

On to the games:

Algeria – Slovenia (0-1)

Goal – Koren (SVN) 79’

Red Card – Ghezzal (ALG) 73’, two yellows

This game was pretty much bad from start to finish.  The game was loose and sloppy from the first minute.  I thought both these teams would be better but I was wrong.  This game had tie written all over it but some shoddy defending and goalkeeping by the Algerians gave Slovenia the win and now Slovenia sits atop Group C.  Go figure.  I did like the green Charlie Brown jerseys worn by Slovenia.

Like Slovenia's jerseys, except green

Algeria started the game in a 4-5-1 which hardly ever works since your forward is all alone in the middle of the field waiting for service.  Neither team was in a rush to score and passes were being missed all over the place.  Algeria did a lot of complaining throughout the match.  Both teams were physical and I wrote in my notebook at 36’ that there would be a red card in this game.  At minute 73, Abdelkadar Ghezzal (Siena) decides that since the pass is over his head maybe he should stick his arm out and try to stop it.  Maybe nobody will notice.  The referee did and it was a yellow for Ghezzal.  Too bad it was his second yellow since coming on for Rafik Djebbour (AEK Athens) at 59’.  Ghezzal came into the game and immediately got a yellow for a rough tackle.  Nice!

At 79’ Robert Koren (West Bromwich Albion) gets the ball outside the box, to the left and since the defenders decided not to make a move on him, he dribbled to the top of the box before anyone closed in on him and took an average shot that bounced and went into the net.  The goalie looked real bad.  Maybe he was screened or maybe the Jubulani World Cup ball really does suck.  The Jabulani has been flying and taking some odd bounces this entire tournament.  Maybe the players are right, this ball does suck.

Bad ball or bad goalkeeping. How about both?

Serbia – Ghana (0-1)

Goal – Gyan (GHA) 85′ penalty

Red Card – Lukovic (SRB) 74′, two yellows

I was surprised at the Ghana lineup when I noticed both Sulley Muntari (Inter) and Stephen Appiah (Bologna) were being left out.  Appiah came on at 73′ but Muntari was never used.  Luckily, Ghana did just fine without them in the starting lineup.  Not that Ghana played that well but neither did Serbia and a late penalty was all Ghana needed to win this game.

What was wrong with Serbia?  The lineup looked good on paper but that’s it.  With Marko Pantelic (Ajax) and the 6 foot 7 Nikola Zigic (Birmingham City) up front I thought Serbia could cause problems and score a few goals.  I was way off.  I don’t know exactly where Zigic was playing.  He spent a lot of time around the midfield circle and even got a yellow for a challenge near Serbia’s defense.  Why would a tall, gifted forward be anywhere but in or around the Ghana third of the field.  Since Zigic was strolling around the pitch, Pantelic was left all alone up on the right front trying to catch up to bad Serbian passes and crosses.  Milos Krasic (CSKA Moscow) did his best in the midfield but he too was on the right.  The first half was all played on the right side.  Mix it up a little, there were other players on the left.

Zigic, tall forwards shouldn't be anywhere near the midfield

In the second half, Zigic decided that he was a forward and played more in the attacking zone but the passes still were off.  Both teams played some pretty bad soccer.  Aleksandar Lukovic (Udinese) was shown red  at 74′ after getting his second yellow and Serbia were down to ten men.  Ghana started to put pressure from this point on and it paid off at 82′ when they were awarded a penalty after Zdravko Kuzmanovic (VfB Stuttgart) decided to reach out and touch a cross from Ghana’s Andre Ayew (Arles).  Silly play.  Asamoah Gyan (Rennes) converted and that was it.  Gyan was by far the best player on the field.  Hopefully both teams can tighten things up and play better in the next game.

Germany – Australia (4-0)

Goals – Podolski (GER) 8′, Klose (GER) 26′, Mueller (GER) 68′, Cacau (GER) 70′

Red Card – Cahill (AUS) 56′

Not much to say here except that Germany OWNED Australia.  They put on a clinic.  Australia had an early chance at 3′ but Richard Garcia (Hull City) had his shot cleared by Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich).  It was all Germany after that.  Australia could not keep up with the constant German pressure.  Then, Tim Cahill (Everton) gets himself sent off after a rough challenge on Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich).  Cahill actually looked surprised when he was shown the red.  Tim, if you come in on a player from the side with your knees, you’re gonna see red.  Plus Schweinsteiger didn’t even have the ball at that point.  Nice play Tim.

Different game, same outcome for Cahill

If Germany can keep up this attacking pace, not scoring pace, they will be hard to beat.  In my preview I told you not to expect too much from Australia.  I still stand by that.  No Cahill against Ghana, no chance.  Germany is by far the best team to have played so far.  Solid in every part of the game.

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)

Day two was better than day one but the last game of the night, England – USA, had me regretting my decision to get up at 3:30 am to watch it.  Those horns are still annoying and I’m not sure how I’m gonna get through the tournament with that sound.  I could still hear them after the games were over.  Now the sound is in my head.  Damn you Vuvuzela!

I was supposed to watch the South Korea game on the big screen at the stadium here in Yeoncheon but it rained all day and I am too much of a pussy to sit out in the rain to watch a game.  Many brave souls who really love their team did end up making the trip to the stadium.  I was watching them out my window.  Rain or no rain, they had a good time and I would turn down my television whenever something big happened and I could hear them cheering.  Hopefully it doesn’t rain on Thursday because they’ll be showing the game at the stadium again.  That should be one hell of a game, Argentina- South Korea.

On to the games:

South Korea – Greece (2-0)

Goals – Lee Jung Soo (KOR) 7′, Park Ji Sung (KOR) 52′

Greece, the former European champions, must have forgotten when the game started because they didn’t really start playing until the 68th minute and by that time it was too late.  They were outplayed and outclassed by Korea throughout the game.  Korea just seemed to be faster, quicker and have more energy than Greece.  Greece’s body language looked as if they were defeated half way through the game while Korea had the intensity and will to win this game.

Georgios Samaras (Celtic) was barely a factor in the game.  There were long stretches where I had forgotten he was in the game.  Actually, Otto Rehhagel’s Greece lineup was a bit puzzling.  Why didn’t defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos start the game or even enter the game as a substitute?  With Korea controlling the midfield and Greece down 1-0, Rehhagel subs in a defender, not Kyrgiakos, for another defender.  What he needed to do was add a true midfielder and get rid of one of the forwards who were playing midfield.  Samaras should’ve been sacrificed at 46′ instead of at 59′.  Finally at 68′ they decided they could play this game but Korea was still able to keep them from finishing.  They didn’t put enough pressure on the Korean midfielders until late in the game.  The South Korean players used this space to create havoc all over the field.

Samaras, this isn't St. Mirren, try a little more effort next time

Korea was running from the first minute until the game was over.  Park Chu Young (Monaco) didn’t score but he created lots of problems for the Greek defense.  Defender Cha Du Ri (SC Freiburg) was a monster all over the field and drove the Greeks crazy in the defense, midfield and up front.  Korea’s European based midfielders, Park Ji Sung (Manchester United), Lee Chung Yong (Bolton) and Ki Sung Yueng (Celtic) owned this game.  They couldn’t be stopped and should create problems for Argentina in the next game.  Korea might be better than I expected.

Argentina – Nigeria (1-0)

Goal – Heinze (ARG) 6′

Probably the best game of the World Cup so far.  I know it’s early but this game was played at a high pace and both teams could’ve had three goals a piece if not for some good goalkeeping.  Actually, Lionel Messi (Barcelona) could’ve had five goals himself.  He didn’t need much space to get off a shot and it looked like the Nigerian defense were doing too much watching and not enough defending.  If South Korea has any chance of winning against Argentina they have to get physical with Messi and not give him any room.  I don’t mean knock him down but make sure they are right in his face when he gets the ball or he’ll use the space to make them pay.

High marks for all players on both teams.  The game was back and forth until the final whistle.  Only change I would’ve made for Nigeria was having Obafemi Martins (Wolfsburg) start the game instead of Victor Obinna (Malaga).  Nigeria went for a 4-3-3 formation which I thought was odd but it worked and they should be able to better against Greece in the next game.

Neither of these sides need to do much different in their next games.  Did you notice Diego Maradona’s suit on the sidelines for Argentina.  The suit looked terrible and he looked like a used car salesman/drug lord.

The Rock says, "nice suit, 25 cents!".

England – USA (1-1)

Goals – Gerrard (ENG) 4′, Dempsey (USA) 40′

Where to begin.  Yes American “fans”, the USA tied England for the first time ever but don’t get too excited because your defense is awful and if it wasn’t for your keeper, Tim Howard (Everton), this game would’ve ended 3-1 or 4-1.  Howard was the man of the match and rightfully so.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) didn’t have a great game.  I actually didn’t hear his name for long stretches.  I though Emile Heskey (Aston Villa) outplayed Rooney.  This lineup was good but I would’ve found room for Joe Cole (Chelsea) and/or Michael Carrick (Manchester United).  James Milner (Aston Villa) probably shouldn’t have started because he had a slight injury and it must have flared up because he was replaced by Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City) at 31′.  Joe Cole would have been a better replacement.  Fabio Capello has a tough job because he has so many talented players to choose from.  It’s not always a good thing.

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) showed how bad the USA defense was with his early goal and it looked as if there would be more to come.  That didn’t happen because they looked frustrated by not be able to score more.  The USA equalised at 40′ when a Clint Dempsey (Fulham) shot bounced into the goal off of Robert Green’s gloves.  Green (West Ham) looked terrible on the play.  Maybe he should stop wearing those hamburger helper gloves.  His body was turned in such a way that the ball had only one way to go if he didn’t stop it.  Terrible!!!  I said in my preview that England would only go as far as their goalkeeping would take them.  If this continues, it won’t be far.  I can only imagine how much Capello yelled after the game.

This isn't the best choice of goalkeeper gloves.

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:

USA (1), England (1), Slovenia and Algeria have not played

The World Cup kicked off last night (in Korea) and there were two pretty good games.  The Uruguay – France game came on at 3:30 am so it was a bit rough trying to get through it.  Both games were exciting but I’m already hating those horns.  I can’t imagine sitting next to person who has the Vuvuzela horn.  In 1994 I went to see Brazil – Sweden and sat with the Brazilian supporters and it was two straight hours of some dudes banging drums to a samba beat so the scantily clad women could strut their stuff.  I was enjoying the chicks shaking their asses but by the end of the first half I had a headache.  In the middle of the second half I was so annoyed that I was cursing the whole country of Brazil.  Don’t worry Brazil, we’re good now.

Samba girls, yes. Guys beating drums, no.

On to the games:

South Africa – Mexico (1-1)

Goals – Tshabalala (RSA) 55′ , Marquez (MEX) 79′

Mexico controlled this game in the first half.  Well…most of the first half.  At the 40th minute South Africa turned it up and had Mexico on their heels for the rest of the first half and that momentum continued into the second half.  The left side of the South African defense had lots of difficulty with Juarez.  Kuhne (RSA) was lucky that Dos Santos didn’t score at 2′ because the rebound went right to his feet.  Dos Santos (MEX) owned the center of the midfield.

Mexico had three clear chances on goal in the first half but the referees did South Africa a favor at 37′.  Somehow the linesman decided that Vela (MEX) was offside even though he was even with the defender and the goalie while a South African defender was standing on the goal line.  Maybe I’m wrong but it looked like he made a mistake.  The referee otherwise had a pretty good, even game.  I thought he was a bit quick to give Juarez (MEX) a yellow at 18′.

You were robbed

In the first half, the South African coach looked a bit drowsy but he was awake enough to make a key adjustment to start the second half.  Parreira brought on Masilela in place of Thwala at left back.  Huge difference.  I would be surprised if Masilela didn’t start the next game because Thwala looked lost while Masilela was solid.

Mexico looked lost in the second half.  A nice pass put Tshabalala (RSA) took a nice though pass and put a little space between himself and the defender and rifled a hard diagonal shot in the corner of the net.  Mexico was lucky because South Africa had about five clear scoring chances.  Mphela (RSA) hit the post at 90′.  So close to taking the three points.

I wonder why Aguirre (MEX) didn’t start Guardado over Juarez in the first place?  Juarez was good in the first half but Guardado was better after he came in at 55′.  His cross to Marquez resulted in Mexico’s tying goal.  Blanco (MEX) came on at 69′ and even though he’s old, for a soccer player, he still has some spark.

I had higher hopes for Mexico in this game.  I had predicted they’d win 2-0 and the way things were going in the first half it looked likely.  I still like Mexico to go through.

Uruguay – France (0-0)

Red Card – Lodeiro (URU) 81′, two yellows

This game ended the way I thought it would.  I was thinking both teams would have scored a goal but 0-0 ties are common in the World Cup.  I hope it doesn’t continue that way.  Both teams tried but just couldn’t put the ball in the net.  Diego Forlan (URU) was the best player on the field.  He was everywhere up front for Uruguay.  Ribery (FRA) looked a bit rushed all game.  He is one of my favorite players and has such a high energy level but he would have done better to tone it down in this game.  He looked angry the whole time.  When he’s on for Bayern Munich it looks like he’s having a good time but he didn’t look that way here.

Mr. Everything for Uruguay

Bakari Sagna (FRA) was solid on defense and did a lot of work.  Toulalan (FRA) was all over and Anelka (FRA) didn’t impress me that much.  And no, it has nothing to do with the fact he plays for Chelsea.

Very good player, terrible hair

I didn’t think Uruguay would be this good and now their game with Mexico should be interesting.  Expect that game to be played at a high pace.  Actually, expect that for all the games in this group because these teams showed that they aren’t content to grind things out.  They want to go forward and put pressure on the defenses.

Standings – Group A

Team (points)

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

One day down and so far so good.  See you tomorrow