Good morning, and may I once again welcome you all to the daily World Cup column on Soccerlens.
Yesterday we saw the first proper shocker of the tournament, as the unfancied Swiss ‘did a number’ on Spain, lulling them into a false sense of security by cunningly allowing La Furia Roja over 70% possession and 22 attempts at their goal – before hitting them on the break to steal the win.
Here’s the best and the rest of today’s World Cup-related shenanigans…
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Honduras 0-1 Chile…
Chile are many people’s dark-horse picks to advance from Group H along with Spain (although Spain seem to have given them a sporting headstart, see below), and didn’t let themselves down by picking up three vital points in their opening World Cup encounter – their first victory at a finals in 48 years.
A slightly fortuitous goal from Jean Beausejour was enough to give Marco Bielsa‘s side the deceptively narrow win that their enterprising play deserved, with Chile operating in a highly-unorthodox, but nevertheless effective, 3-3-1-3 formation.
The Hondurans were fractious throughout and thus struggled to cope with Chile’s quick, skillful passing – epitomised by the display of 21-year-old winger Alexis Sanchez, who pulled the strings for La Roja all afternoon.
Sanchez was involved in the build-up to the goal, as it was his measured through ball that Mauricio Isla whipped across the face of the goal – the ball then ricocheting off Honduran defender Sergio Mendoza, into Beasejour and past ‘keeper Noel Valladares.
Chile continued to control proceedings and the largely entertaining game somewhat lost it’s fizz as the final whistle loomed.
Read the Honduras v Chile match report.
Spain 0-1 Switzerland…
We got the first real shock of the World Cup in the afternoon kick-off, as tournament favourites Spain lost out by a single goal to Switzerland, despite monopolising the possession in Durban.
The European champions ended the game having enjoyed almost 75% of the possession, but their wastefulness in front of goal ensured they would eventually slump to their first defeat in 49 games.
Spain were made to pay for their inability to break down a resilient Swiss outfit when, following a long ball upfield, former Manchester City midfielder Gelson Fernandes bundled the ball over the line past the despairing reach of Iker Casillas.
The creative stars like Xavi, Andres Iniesta and David Villa in Spain’s side failed to click convincingly and, despite the entry of prolific striker Fernando Torres on the hour mark, still failed to capitalise on any of their dozen-or-so further goalscoring chances that fell their way.
Switzerland even came close to grabbing a second when striker Eren Derdiyok struck a post after wading his way through the Spanish defence.
The pressure is now on for Vicente Del Bosque‘s men, who face an uphill battle to live up to their ‘favourites’ tag as no other side has ever gone on to win the World Cup after losing their first game.
Read the Spain v Switzerland match report.
Quote of the day…
“These were three very unexpected points for us.”
Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld kind of sums up what we were all thinking – just in slightly more polite language.
South Africa 0-3 Uruguay…
The first of the second round of group games took place in Pretoria yesterday evening, pitting hosts South Africa against Oscar Tabarez‘s Uruguay side.
In truth, Tabarez’s men impressed from start to finish with a much more convincing performance than the one they managed against France on the opening day – looking confident going forward and in defence.
Diego Forlan will grab all the headlines after becoming the first man to notch a brace at this summer’s tournament – the first a 30-yard deflected effort that crashed in off the underside of the bar and the second an emphatic penalty, powerfully dispatched after Bafana Bafana ‘keeper Itumeleng Khune was dismissed for tripping Luis Suarez.
South Africa hardly troubled their opponent’s defence, thanks in part to a tenacious display from Diego Perez in the deep-lying holding role.
Uruguay added a third goal to their tally deep into injury-time, when Ajax forward Suarez floated a cross over the despairing substitute stopper Moneeb Josephs for Porto’s Alvaro Pereira to expertly finish – using both his face and his knee to guide the ball home from a yard out.
Read the South Africa v Uruguay match report.
He thinks the Sol shines out of his arse…
Veteran Arsenal defender Sol Campbell has criticised England coach Fabio Capello for overlooking him when selecting his 23-man World Cup squad, instead choosing to gamble on ‘half-fit’ players.
The 35-year-old centre-back, who surprised many with his solid form upon returning to the Gunners during the second half of last season, seems to think that he would’ve been a better choice to provide defensive cover in South Africa – rather than the clutch of semi-injured (and semi-retired) men that did make the grade.
Speaking to ESPN Soccernet, Campbell said;
“I wouldn’t mind being out in South Africa with the England team. The way I have been playing for Arsenal, don’t you think I should be? I do. For sure.
Regrets? You could say that. I regret the fact that the England camp didn’t think of me. I would have put my heart and soul into playing for my country again. I played my heart out for Arsenal again and thought it was worthy of a chance with England. It never came.
Surely, you pick people in the groove, and I was back in the groove, and I was fit. Instead, Capello picked a couple of half-fit players. It fell right for them. Not for me.”
Campbell also believes that he would had have an easier time understanding Capello’s decision to not gamble on an aging player that won his last international cap in 2007 – had the Italian not attempted to coax other veterans like Jamie Carragher and Paul Scholes out of international retirement for the tournament;
“I can understand if Capello was thinking ‘this guy is for England’s past’ but then he went back for a couple of players who had retired from international football, I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t interested in going back to me.
Not only that, Capello has gone for one centre half who didn’t have a very good season, and another who just missed out on relegation.
It’s crazy when you think about it, that I would have done anything for a crack at it, but never [got the opportunity]. I was really, really hurt to be totally overlooked without even having an opportunity.
I have been playing with England teams since I was 15 years old. I have won 74 England caps – been there, got the T-shirt – and it’s experience that counts at this level as well.”
Get over it old man. I think it was probably the fact that Jamie Carragher doesn’t have to have his shorts specially made by the company that produce tents for the Cirque du Soleil that eventually swung things in his favour.
There’s a brew a-storming…
Two women involved in the ‘ambush marketing’ ploy that eventually saw ITV pundit Robbie Earle lose his job, have been bailed after paying a R10,000 fine and surrendering their passports.
They are now due to return to the magistrates’ court in Johannesburg on June 22nd.
The women have both been charged with “unauthorised use of a trade mark at a protected event” and “entry into a designated area while in possession of a prohibited commercial object” under the Merchandise Marks Act.
The marketing device saw a Dutch beer company employ 36 female models to wear promotional mini-skirts at the opening Group E game on Monday, and FIFA have confirmed that the girls used in the stunt will not be charged for their involvement.
FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot said;
“FIFA has filed charges against the organisers of the ambush marketing stunt pulled during the Netherlands v Denmark match at Soccer City three days ago.
No charges have been brought against the young women used in this illicit activity.”
Well I never, all this fuss over a few mini-skirted models.
- England average a goal every 32 minutes when Wayne Rooney is partnered up-front by Peter Crouch.
- The 19.8 shots-per-game average at the South African World Cup so far is lower than at this point in any of the previous three finals.
- As yet, no team has come from behind to win at this summer’s tournament.
Barry will start vs Algeria…
England coach Fabio Capello has seemingly confirmed that Gareth Barry will start against Algeria in Cape Town on Friday, as the midfielder has now completely shook off the ankle injury that forced him to miss the opening game against the US.
The snippet from Capello;
“Gareth will play this Friday. He is OK, there is no problem. He has trained very well and he is fit.”
Still no room for Carlton Palmer in Fabio’s plans? It’s an outrage!
Buffon’s World Cup in jeopardy…
Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon‘s World Cup is hanging in the balance after scans on the back injury (that forced him off at half-time against Paraguay) have confirmed that the Juventus stopper has suffered a herniated disc as well as a flare up of his long-standing sciatic nerve problem.
Buffon is now certain to miss the Azzurri‘s next game against New Zealand on Sunday, with team doctor Enrico Castellacci confirming;
“The hernia is small, but even a small hernia can cause great pain. It’s not easy to make a prognosis but it’s a small margin and Buffon strongly wants to recuperate.
There is a desire on Buffon’s behalf to recuperate, a chance that we have no right to take away.”
Castellacci did, however, have a positive update on the condition of midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo – who has been sidelined with a calf injury since before the tournament;
“He has now been subjected to (an MRI scan), he is training and is running and things are going according to the schedule set out at the beginning.
The objective was for him to return in the third game [against Slovakia] or the last 16 and he should be ready for (one of) those games.”
Q: What do you call 1000 vuvuzelas at the bottom of the sea?
A: A good start!
A shopping mall in Bloemfontein, South Africa has banned shoppers from tooting on their vuvuzelas whilst on the premises, going as far as to draft up the above logo in a bid to signify their intent – which, as the good folks over at Dirty Tackle point out, is almost destined to appear on ironic t-shirts worldwide!
(Pic via Globoesport)
Other quote of the day…
“Lukas Podolski, Elano, Maicon…but none of them can compare to Messi’s performance, none of them reached even 40% of what Messi showed.”
Argentina coach Diego Maradona when asked which players have impressed him at the World Cup so far – and here’s me thinking that L’il Leo wasn’t actually that good (by his standards at least) against Nigeria.
And in other news…
Crocked German veteran Michael Ballack, who was ruled out of the World Cup following an ankle injury sustained in Chelsea’s FA Cup final victory, has opened talks with his former club Bayer Leverkusen over a move back to the Bundesliga. (Guardian)
England’s thick-necked, knuckle-dragging talisman Wayne Rooney has seen his plea for a domestic winter break fall upon deaf ears. (Telegraph)
Fabio Capello is the latest addition to the long list of high-profile names to lodge their complaints about the official World Cup ball. (Mail)
Soccerlens Fantasy Football…
Soccerlens Fantasy Football gives you the option to go against friends and fellow competitors over a day’s games.
This means that you should pick your fantasy team from players involved in the games happening on that specific day. It also gives you the option of picking your fantasy team with the players you might be more familiar with.
Either way, it’s fast and action packed. So pick the specific round(s) you want to join from the home-page and join a competition!
You can also challenge your friends over a specific round by creating a private competition
Today’s (Thursday 17th June) round is as follows:
- France vs Mexico
- Greece vs Nigeria
- Argentina vs South Korea
Give it a go and you may come away with a cash prize!
The 2010 World Cup on Soccerlens
There will be comprehensive coverage of the World Cup on Soccerlens over the coming months.
With the dedicated World Cup section (chock full of info, including fixtures and stats – and even links to buy replica shirts) on SL, there really is no need to go anywhere else for your World Cup needs this summer!
Also on Soccerlens…