Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Go back to the museum!

Finally! Maybe, just maybe, we have liftoff. The headlines will undoubtably go to Switzerland for their shock victory, but we shouldn't forget Chile or Uruguay's part in the day either. Oh, and Maradona has done something mental again.

It's only fair to give the Swiss top billing. The side that went out last time without conceding a goal have maintained their mean streak, and in doing so started this campaign with a fantastic win. From a Spanish perspective, it's slightly worrying how easily they were kept out. Whilst they dominated possession and had a fair few opportunities, they never created a really clear cut chance. They were far too narrow and easy to keep out until Navas came on, and even then his crossing was so Walcott-esque that it limited his impact. I would've liked to see them bring on Fernando Llorente ahead of Torres. Firstly because Torres clearly wasn't fit, and secondly because he offers a different threat. Given that with Navas on there seemed to be more of an effort to get the ball in the box, Llorente is far better in the air than Torres and could have been their 'Plan B'.

As it is, Group H is now wide open. Chile began their campaign with a 1-0 victory that should have been far more comfortable. On another day Alexis Sanchez could have scored about 4 himself, and Waldo Ponce lived up to his name by somehow managing to miss an open goal from a yard. I gave Chile a bit of a build up yesterday so thankfully they went some way to living up to that. They might look even better against sides who attack them more than Honduras did, as they are exceptionally quick on the break. It's almost a shame they can't meet England until the final because Sanchez v Carragher would be worth seeing. The earth spins on its axis quicker than Jamie does the 100 metres. I say 'almost a shame', because England would probably lose.

I think my second place prediction for South Africa might have to be altered. They simply weren't good enough tonight, and Uruguay didn't even get close to their best. Barring a (potentially hilarious) miracle against France, the hosts are going home. Metaphorically, obviously. In saying all that, I did think they were a bit unlucky with the penalty. Luis Suarez had clearly been watching Ronaldo yesterday and was throwing himself all over the place throughout the whole game. He was looking for it, and the way he went down given the minimal contact from Kuhne was ridiculous. I also think he might've been offside. From the inital attempt from Forlan, he was on, but the shot seemed to hit another Uruguayan player before it got through to Suarez. We never got a look at the right angle to see. They probably would have lost regardless, but it's hard not to feel sorry for the goalkeeper given that he is unlikely to play at a World Cup ever again.

You'll all be pleased to know that Maradona's back tomorrow. In his press conference today he not only sung happy birthday to a journalist (presumably not one of the ones he told to 'suck it', amongst other things, in October) but also told Pele and Platini to 'go back to the museum'. Which, as insults go, is not the best. It also makes absolutely no sense, but it wouldn't be Maradona if he didn't talk in bizarre made up riddles all the time. As for his team, they face their toughest test of the group stage against South Korea, but you would expect them to come through it. Nonetheless, we'll have a much better idea of their credentials in 24 hours time. Even I can't talk up Greece vs Nigeria, other than to say that the Greeks are completely terrible and anything other than a hammering will probably be a success. I wish I could say the same for France, but as I've said before I think the Mexicans' lack of firepower is going to cost them. The French will use all their experience to scrape a 1-0 win.

Why do I get the feeling Diego's gonna win this thing?

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