Six thoughts after six days

17 Jun

Well, I meant to post this yesterday, but I forgot, so you get it today instead. 

The World Cup is six days old and every team has played its first group game, so here’s my thoughts on the first 16 matches.

  • Meh.  Team are playing cautiously, which means lots of defense and not a lot of goals.  Not exactly super exciting stuff so far.  Only four teams have scored more than one goal in a game (South Korea, Germany, Netherlands and Brazil). Things should open up more as teams push for wins to get to the next round.
  • Germany is the only team so far that looks like it wants to win.  Granted, Australia looked rather poor, but Germany’s passing was spot-on.  They did such a good job controlling the ball and the pace of the game.  Plus, the Germans got four goals from four different people and it’s always nice to have multiple strike options.
  • Game of the first round: Switzerland 1, Spain 0.  South Africa has not been kind to Spain.  A year after losing to the U.S. in the Confederations Cup, Switzerland shocked Spain in the opening game of group H.  Spain had plenty of opportunities to score, but just couldn’t convert.  Spain should be able to recover and get out of the group, but Chile also looked dangerous so the road once viewed as easy might get a little bit rougher.
  • As much as I would love to see South Africa get into the second round, I just don’t see it happening.  The team just doesn’t have the depth. (Also, a 3-0 loss to Uruguay and a red card for the starting goalie made that road a LOT tougher.)
  • The stars have yet to shine.  Lionel Messi and Argentina’s formidable strikers haven’t scored a goal (defender Gabriel Heinze scored the winner against Nigeria).  Cristiano Ronaldo was a non-factor and Didier Drogba was relegated to substitute duty.  Wayne Rooney hardly touched the ball.  No one has put their team on their shoulders and carried them a win (Zidane style, of course).  The big names have to step up their game.
  • As a whole, the refereeing has been solid.  I’m sure Tim Cahill would beg to differ, but compared to four years ago, refs are pulling those cards out a lot less.
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