Tuesday, 15 June 2010

North Korea would beat England

The two lowest ranked teams in the tournament, both playing in their second World Cup, are the stories of day five. A last gasp equaliser gave New Zealand their first ever point at the finals, and for a while there was a genuine possibility North Korea could hold Brazil and in doing so cause one of the greatest upsets ever seen at the World Cup. If we just pretend the game in the middle never happened it's been a pretty good day.

Slovakia will be very disappointed not to have started with a win, but they have only themselves to blame. Quite why they decided to try to hold their 1-0 lead instead of really going for broke is anyone's guess. As for the Kiwis, I'm going to take some of the credit for their goal since I had already started doing my little write up on the game whilst it was still going on, and I was writing it as if they had lost. I also had money on Slovakia, so I think I might have tempted fate with that one. Full credit to the Kiwi’s though, they knew their limitations and kept things tight, whilst playing to their strengths going forward. In particular, their pressing game was key in preventing Slovakia from building attacks for long periods of the game. Compared to Australia's pathetic tactics against Germany (obviously Germany are a better side than Slovakia, but still) they were excellent. To put that performance into context, 3 of the side have played non league football in England and 2 of them are currently without a club. If football was played on paper they would have no chance in any game at this tournament. Thankfully, it isn’t.

The same goes for North Korea, who also played exceptionally well despite their eventual loss. Their late goal is probably the moment of the tournament so far after the South African opener on Friday. The ridiculously patronising commentary from the ITV team was a constant annoyance (I spose ITV in general is a constant annoyance) but Korea deserve all the praise they will get over the next few days. Another thing their performance does is make Ivory Coast and Portugal look exceptionally stupid, as they appeared to be happy with a point. It seems they settled for a draw on the basis that they'd be able to thrash North Korea and qualify on goal difference. That does not look as simple any more. To be honest I hope neither team gets through now because of they way they made no effort to win the game. Come on Korea!

The tournament still hasn't spluttered into life yet, so I'm going to try a different approach; Pessimism!

Not really.

I just can't look at tomorrow and not hope for a couple of storming attacking performances. Chile should be worth seeing just because they probably play the most exciting formation of anyone in the tournament. Their 3-4-3/3-3-1-3 contains the much hyped Alexis Sanchez, as well as a personal favourite of mine, Sporting's Matias Fernandez. I'm not sure Honduras will be good enough defensively to cope with the way the Chileans attack. On top of that, the favourites finally make their first appearance tomorrow afternoon, and surely they won't be settling for a draw. The Swiss will probably look to kill the game as much as possible, but the Spanish can be overwhelming going forward at times. What we've been lacking so far is early goals, many of the games would have been much better if one team had been forced out of it's shell early. If Spain buck the trend then Switzerland could get a hammering.

We'll end with a quick glance in the hosts' direction, as they kick off the second round of group games in the evening. I've said before how I hope they do well and I still feel the same way. Uruguay weren't very impressive in the first game, but they might have to come out and attack a bit more this time out, so with any luck we'll have a decent game on our hands. I fancy South Africa to nick it 2-1.

North Korea - South Korea final anyone?

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