The second day showed glimpses of what was to come, with the three matches ranging from the sublime (Argentina vs Ivory Coast) to letdowns (England vs Paraguay) with the dour in between (Sweden vs Trinidad and Tobago). No team comes to the finals to just ‘make weight’, and both Ivory Coast and T & T showed that they would not be pushovers with contrasting but impressive displays.
Ivory Coast in particular were unlucky not to win the match, their build up and slick passing let down by poor finishing – some would point to Drogba as the culprit but the man managed a goal and created several chances. It was his team mates who fluffed the most chances, and if Ivory Coast want to get out of this group (which they have every chance of doing based on today’s performance), they will need to score.
Argentina, on the other hand, were lucky to be 2-1 winners. They have been in a similar ‘Group of Death’ before in the 2002 World Cup – that time they crashed out in the group stages but this time, with arguably a stronger midfiled, Argentina are still one of the favorites to progress to the quarter finals and my pick for both topping the Group AND reaching the finals (see my world cup predicitions page).
Sweden stumbled to a 0-0 draw against 10-man Trinidad and Tobago, throwing Group B wide open in the process (and securing England’s status as the favourites to be group winners). Sweden take on Paraguay next in a must win game, whereas T & T go up against England, who are unlikely to be as generous in attack.