Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Thank God for that

In terms of support, was tonight's match the most one sided ever? I'm not sure there were any neutrals who were on Portugal's side, and that is not surprising. They are a disgraceful side, not just for the incredibly defensive tactics but also for their constant cheating. Not one Portuguese footballer in that side is likeable at all.

David Villa's goal sealed a victory for attacking football. Yesterday I spoke about the rise of defensive football and I have no problem with that, but there are limits. Portugal have made no effort to win 3 of their 4 games at this tournament. Even at 1-0 down tonight they didn't even try to attack, which is a combination of utter stupidity and a bit of a disgrace. A side containing one of the best forward players in the world has completely wasted him, so much so that today I experienced a feeling I don't think I have ever experienced before, sympathy for Ronaldo. What was he supposed to do? Carlos Quieroz's tactics would be understandable if the plan was to play on the counter attack, but they didn't even try that. Ronaldo is a fantastic asset to have regardless of how you play, but he has shown both at Man Utd and at Real Madrid how devestating he can be when used in breakaways. Instead Portugal have used him either has a lone frontman or a isolated winger, with his only service being long balls forward, that was clearly a massive mistake.

The stats suggest a fairly decent goal return, 7 goals in their 4 games. When all 7 of them are in one game it suggests something completely different. The way they were set up, Portugal failed to score against any of their more difficult opposition (and Ivory Coast aren't even that good). A team like that does not deserve to qualify, and it's great for the competition that Spain eventually broke them down.

The European Champions still don't quite look to have hit their best yet, Fernando Torres clearly isn't fit, and I'd say similar about Andres Iniesta. Torres has probably been their worst player by some considerable distance so far, his movement is still good but in every other aspect he seems to have morphed into Emile Heskey. Terrible shooting, worse control. It's not a coincidence that as soon as the Liverpool man went off Spain started to play much better, Fernando Llorente gave the Portuguese defence something completely different to think about, and I think they need to keep this in mind for the quarter finals. Make no mistake, Paraguay will set themselves up in the same way as Portugal and Switzerland have, I don't think Spain can risk Torres again. David Silva or Jesus Navas needs to start to offer a different threat.

There is a history at World Cups of the teams that start slowly coming through to lift the trophy, very rarely do the sides who start with a bang continue that form throughout. So there is a lot of reasons for Spain to be positive, but they are going to have to really turn it on at some point in this tournament to win it. Will a potential semi final with Brazil be the moment?

Looking ahead, there's no football for two days now, and as soon as the rest days start you know there's not much of the World Cup left. That means a return to club football, and I'd like to pretend it doesn't exist for a little while yet. Today my team's manager finally completed his exit, enticed away by the delights of Hull City. That is definitely more depressing than a crushing defeat by Germany.

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