Day 11 Recap

SOCCER/FUTBOL WORLD CUP 2010 ESPANA VS HONDURAS Action photo of David Villa of Spain celebrating a goal, during World Cup 2010 game held at the Ellis Park Stadium Johannesburgo, South Africa./Foto de accion de David Villa de Espana celebrando un gol, durante juego de la Copa del Mundo 2010 celebrado en el estadio Ellis Par de Johannesburgo, Sudafrica. 21 June 2010 MEXSPORT/OSVALDO AGUILAR Photo via Newscom
Portugal 7 – Korea DPR 0

If you just watched this game until half-time you would have been struck with an impression like: “Wow, I guess North Korea nearly holding off Brazil wasn’t a fluke—they look pretty darn decent.” And indeed they did. The rain made for a wet and slippery pitch and there was an occasional spill, but the quick and fearless North Koreans pressed the Portugal goal as much as they defended. In the 29th minute, however, the Europeans found a nice stride when a very pretty through ball into the Korean box found Raul Meireles on a slanted run, and he finished convincingly.  The score held until the 45th minute. With Portugal up a modest 1-0 half, anyone had a reasonable right to believe Korea might be in range of yet another surprising upset or draw.

So how do we get from 1-0 to 7-0? Had we been witnessing a team playing well above their means, perhaps fueled by determination and mystery, finally collapse under the strain and settle into their natural level of play? Whatever the case, Portugal poured on a barrage of skill and scored 6, yes 6, well-deserved goals. FFG won’t summarize them all here, but you’ll want to check out video highlights of Ronaldo’s 86th minute goal, which will probably go down as a classic World Cup “blooper” goal. He was cutoff by keeper Ri Myong Guk on a break, who deflected the ball into the air. It landed for a moment on the back of Ronaldo’s neck, during which time Ronaldo seemed befuddled as to where the ball had gone. When it rolled back over his shoulder, however, he didn’t hesitate to pop it into the now empty net.

With such a massive goal-differential, Portugal have virtually assured they’ll advance from their group along with Brazil, who have 6 points. Ivory Coast would need to score several goals (and count on Brazil scoring several more to beat Portugal) in order to overtake Portugal and advance with Brazil.

Chile 1 – Switzerland 0

Switzerland and Chile present diametrically opposed tactical ideologies. The South Americans attack in waves using a 3-3-1-3 and their opponents line up in a 4-4-1-1 with the express purpose of not giving up a goal, a classic case of unstoppable force and immovable object. When Valon Behrami was given a red card in the 31st, the match’s course became even clearer. Chile would attack. Switzerland would defend and defend and defend and sometimes counter (but only if they felt like it).
The inevitable outcome didn’t occur until the 75th, but Chile finally hit the net when Mark Gonzalez headed down a cross. The tally leaves his squad quite capable of qualifying for the second round, only needing a tie to secure first place in the group. Switzerland will need some help from Spain to make it to the knockout round: if Switzerland beat Honduras, outscore Chile, and the Spanish win, the Swiss will advance.
Ironically enough, during the match Switzerland broke Italy’s record for consecutive minutes without conceding a goal. Six minutes later Gonzalez bagged his winner.

Spain 2 – Honduras 0

Despite their opening shocker (lost 0-1 to Switzerland) the 2008 European champions came out full of composure and confidence to face Honduras, lining up in a formation resembling a 4-1-2-2-1. Spain played their regular, patient possession-based style but didn’t hesitate to press aggressively in the final third. Spanish right-winger Navas was a spark of activity on the right, always closely supported by marauding right-back Sergio Ramos. The two of them were a source of constant anxiety for the left side of the Honduras defense, testing the back line with both direct runs and a barrage of crosses. Striker David Villa, lined up on the left today, single-handedly became the nightmare on the opposite side, and it was a piece of brilliant individual play by him near the 20th minute that gave Spain its first cup goal. Spain striker Torres (aka “El Nino”), who doesn’t seem to have found his form after a tough season at Liverpool, had two clear opportunities to score but wasn’t able to finish.

Villa tallied again just after the break on a well-struck shot from just outside Honduras box that deflected off a defender and floated over Valladares, the Honduran keeper. Whatever nerves may have been holding back the visionary passing futbol the Spanish are known for were overcome after this second goal. Confident, fluid attack on the Honduras goal continued, and eventually led to Villa’s chance at a hat-trick when Navas was tripped at the edge of the box by defender Izaquirre. Although he had fooled keeper Valladares, Villa’s strike missed wide. In a sense, this missed penalty was emblematic of Spain’s last 30 minutes—despite their extravagant passing and interminable chance-creation, they were unable to finish another goal. Could this lack of a finishing touch hurt them against strong teams later in the cup, when they aren’t likely to have as many opportunities?

Although technically Honduras are not eliminated, it would take a strong win over Switzerland and another loss for Spain for them to have a chance of advancing. Spain will face Chile (who lead the group with 6 points) and need a win to be sure of advancing, although a draw could get them through if Honduras holds off Switzerland.

One Comments Post a Comment
  1. robinoz0 says:

    watching the second half of the Portugal-North Korea game was painful. Korean defense just collapsed after the second goal. personally, i was hoping they would have a better outing after a 40 year absence from the cup

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