Saturday, 19 June 2010

Josh Kennedy looks like Jesus

Harry Kewell lasting less than half an hour in a big game, who'd have thunk it? Fortunately for him that wasn't the only stereotype to reinforce itself today, as Richard Kingson did little to enhance African goalkeepers' reputations (never trust a keeper in tracksuit bottoms). Day 8 of the World Cup sees the Dutch become the first team through to the round of 16 and Cameroon are going home.

Holland haven't exactly been scintillating, but they're missing Robben badly and credit must go to them for winning both games without him. They had a considerable amount of luck but did enough to come through and now they don't have to rush their star man back. Hopefully Bert Van Marwijk will rotate some players and we might get a look at Elia from the start. Without Robben he's the only player they have who's prepared to run at players and take them on. They play Cameroon in the final game, which isn't going to mean anything to the Africans either. The Indomitable Lions should have beaten Denmark, they had so many chances. Samuel Eto'o is going to be extremely angry at his teammates, he had two chances in the game; scored one and hit the post. The rest of his team had about 30 and missed them all. Pierre Webo being the chief culprit, his misses included skying one into the top tier from inside the penalty area. The other game in this group will be a playoff for second, but Japan only need a draw to progress thanks to a better goal difference. I imagine they'll play for a draw and look to frustrate the Danes, which I think they should be able to do if they defend deep. The main threat is Rommedahl's pace, and there isn't a lot of creativity from other areas. Stop Rommedahl and you stifle Denmark.

The other game today was another exciting one, Australia turned in a great performance after having Kewell sent off. Pim Verbeek got his tactics massively wrong against Germany, but this time he got it right. Particularly bringing on Josh Kennedy in the second half and taking the game to Ghana. Both teams had chances but Australia should have won it, Luke Wilkshere missed a great chance late on. Unfortunately for them they're probably out now, they need to win, Germany to win and a 5 goal swing in goal difference. Very unlikely. At least if/when they do go out, they can be proud of this performance and it goes some way to making up for their capitulation against the Germans. Ghana missed a big opportunity to virtually put themselves through, maybe it was down to inexperience - they're missing Essien and are a very young side - but they wilted in the face of Australia's counter attack in the last 20 minutes. They weren't expecting it and never took control of the game properly after half time.

I don't want to talk about England too much here, but there are a couple of points I want to make. Firstly, this incident with the fan getting into the England dressing room. Whilst it's slightly worrying how easy it was, I'm slightly confused as to what made him think that was the best outlet for his anger. On top of that, apparently Princes William and Harry had just left. What were they doing there straight after a game? Surely it should have been a time to clear the air somewhat between players and manager and the atmosphere would have been tense, it seems crazy to me to let them in at that point. Secondly, Andy Townsend on ITV seemed to be suggesting that it was all Capello's fault. That is a completely ridiculous thing to say, I am a big believer in formations, tactics, and the influence of the manager, but you cannot excuse the pathetic lack of effort there was last night.

A quick look forward at tomorrow, Paraguay - Slovakia should be interesting as the Europeans in particular have got to win that game, but should Paraguay win then they are almost certainly going through. New Zealand didn't disgrace themselves at all in the first game, but Italy are a very different and much more difficult challenge. It'll give us another look at what the world champions have got going forward as the pressure will be on them to break New Zealand down. I'm not sure they've got a lot, they didn't look very creative against Paraguay and the Kiwis are not going to give them any room to work with. As an aside, the last time these two teams met - in the Confederations cup last year - New Zealand led 3 times before finally losing 4-3. We'll take that again. The last game tomorrow sees Brazil take on the Ivory Coast, in a game the Ivorians probably have to win now after not even trying to beat Portugal. I can't see it, the Brazillians are very solid and will be happier against teams who try to attack them. They could win comfortably, particularly if they score an early goal, they can then sit back and break fast when they have the chance. I fancy 3-0 Brazil.

To finish, it hasn't escaped my attention that the French camp has once again descended into chaos. Seems a bit silly to me to send Anelka home now when they could wait a couple of days and all go back together.

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