Good day all and welcome to the daily World Cup column on Soccerlens.
The big(gest) news today is that England’s ‘rabble-rouser’ John Terry, after a full day of brave defiance, has fallen back in line following his ‘player power’ speech on Sunday night – in which he urged Fabio Capello to play Joe Cole, let the players drink etc…etc…
Seems like the Chelsea captain’s words don’t hold as much sway in the England dressing room as they are reported to do at Stamford Bridge – just ask Phil Scolari.
Here’s the best of the World Cup news doing the rounds this morning…
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Portugal 7-0 North Korea…
Former Manchester United ‘no. 2’ Carlos Queiroz‘s side ran riot in Cape Town yesterday, sticking seven past an overwhelmed North Korean outfit – unchanged from that which had performed so resiliently against Brazil just one week previous.
In contrast, Portugal were poor during their first game but showed no visible hangover from their opening game stalemate with the Ivory Coast as they mercilessly tore their opponents apart.
The Seleccao were fluid throughout, but really came alive in the second half when winger Simao‘s cool finish (adding to Raul Meireles‘ first-half goal) set them on their way to record the most emphatic scoreline of the World Cup so far.
Simao‘s strike marked the start of an amazing seven-minute spell in which Portugal added two more goals to their tally, with Hugo Almeida (a confident, airborne header) and Tiago (likewise) getting their names on the scoresheet.
Minutes after coming on as a substitute for the obviously tiring Almeida, Sporting Lisbon striker Leidson capitalised on Ri Kwang-Chon‘s mistake by smashing home an angled volley to notch his country’s fifth goal of the afternoon .
Then came the moment many of the neutral fans had been waiting for since the beginning of the tournament, as Cristiano Ronaldo (who had crashed a long-range shot against the bar earlier in the game) opened his South African account (and ended his personal two-year international goal drought) with a slightly fortuitous goal – the ball spinning off his shoulders before dropping invitingly to be tapped into an untended net.
In the dying minutes, former Chelsea midfielder Tiago notched his second goal of the game – thus putting the cap on an almost effortlessly effervescent Portugal display.
Read the Portugal v North Korea match summary.
Chile 1-0 Switzerland…
A late header from Mark Gonzalez was enough to give Chile a hard-fought victory over a Switzerland side that reverted to stubborn defensive tactics as soon as utility man Valon Behrami was unfairly sent off in the 31st minute for ‘raising an arm’ toward Arturo Vidal – an incident that echoed Kaka‘s wrongful dismissal during Brazil’s win over Ivory Coast last night.
Whilst battling for possession on the touchline, Behrami swung an arm backward toward Vidal and the Chilean fell to floor shamefully clutching his face. The referee was conned into thinking that an elbow had been launched (despite his assistant being positioned just feet away from the incident) and the Swiss midfielder was swiftly, and unjustly, sent from the field of play.
Behrami’s wrongly-administered red card was hardly out of character for the Saudi Arabian referee Khalil Al Ghamdi, whose petty, whistle-happy performance ended in nine more (mostly needless) cautions being doled out and the play being constantly halted for even the most insignificant of ‘fouls’.
The Swiss were content to nullify the Chilean attack with negative (and increasingly dull) tactics and it looked like their dour system was going to pay off, that was until the 75th minute when the South Americans finally managed to find a way through the barricades.
Esteban Paredas beat Swiss ‘keeper Diego Benaglio to a throughball but, having been forced wide, chipped a cross to the far post where former Liverpool winger Gonzalez was stationed to head in to a half-open goal.
Swiss substitute Eren Derdiyok has a great chance to level the tie late on, but the striker fired wide – ensuring that Chile would hold on to secure their second single-goal win of the tournament.
Read the Chile v Switzerland match report.
Switzerland set a record for the longest run without conceding a goal at the World Cup finals when they made it past the 67th minute mark without conceding to Chile.
Spain 2-0 Honduras…
Two goals from David Villa were enough to put the reigning European champions’ World Cup campaign back on track, after suffering a surprise defeat to Switzerland during their opening Group H game.
Villa opened Spain’s tournament account with a stunning solo goal in the 17th minute, jinking his way past a trio of Honduran defenders before driving his finish across Noel Valladares and into the far corner.
The Hondurans struggled to cope with Spain’s attacking prowess and a half-cocked Fernando Torres wasted several good chances to increase the deficit before Villa (who was fortunate to still be on the pitch after flicking a hand out at Emilipo Izaguirre) doubled his country’s lead five minutes after the break with a heavily deflected drive from the edge of the area.
Villa was then presented with a great chance to wrap up his hat-trick from the penalty spot when Izaguirre upended Jesus Navas, but the striker fired wide after successfully sending the ‘keeper the wrong way.
Arsenal captain ‘Cesc Fabregas was introduced on the hour mark and very nearly made an instant impact, rounding the ‘keeper only to see his goal-bound effort cleared off the line.
Villa again had a chance to complete his hat-trick, but Sergio Mendoza‘s last-ditch sliding block meant that the Barca new boy would have to be satisfied with a brace.
Vicente Del Bosque‘s side will now have to beat Chile in their final group game if they are to ensure their passage into the last 16.
JT is sowwy…
John Terry has become the second England player in under a week to have made a public apology following an ‘outburst’ in the media.
Just days after Wayne Rooney retracted the comments he made directly into the camera following the Algeria game, Terry has been forced to apologise for comments made in a press conference – in which he seemed to question coach Fabio Capello‘s authority and team selection policy.
Capello himself branded the Chelsea man’s public attack as a ‘very big mistake‘, and was understandably irked that his players seemed to be stewing their grievances instead of addressing them directly to the coach himself;
“My door is always open. If people want to speak with me they can speak with me. Every time we have a meeting I ask the captain, problems? You want to say something? Never.
Then I read yesterday that John Terry said this, I don’t understand why he doesn’t speak with me. When you speak you have to speak privately, not with the media.”
Upon hearing his manager’s words (and perhaps fearing an ‘Anelka-style‘ chop), Terry reneged on the comments he made previously and apologised for his latest indiscretion;
“I went into yesterday’s press conference with the intention of being honest, I was asked a question about Joe Cole and maybe I went too far. But it was never my intention to upset the manager or the players and if I did upset anyone, I apologise.
I have told the manager he has my total support and I would like to stress that I don’t believe I have been a disruptive influence in the camp.
I would now like to put this episode behind me and concentrate on trying to win what is a massive game for England. All I was trying to do was to say how important it is to me to try to win the World Cup.
I just hope people at least appreciate that I have taken the time to call you and have asked you to report what I have to say in response.”
So much for ‘player power’, eh John?
Maradona: ‘Brazil are favourites, Argentina aren’t candidates’…
In what can either be construed as a display of astonishing pessimism or of the most rudimentary mind-games I have witnesses in many-a-year, Argentina coach Diego Maradona has rubbished his side’s chances of lifting the World Cup and instead backed rivals Brazil to take home the cup.
Despite winning both of their group games so far (and needing just a point in their third to secure qualification for the knock-out rounds), Maradona still believes that his side aren’t even ‘candidates’ to triumph this summer, let alone be amongst the favourites to win the competition outright.
“We aren’t either candidates or favourites, we’re here to play a World Cup. I don’t want to be favourites, not before coming to South Africa and not now.
All the teams here can score against you, so you have to be wary all the time. We just want to be the same as normal. We’re here to keep our fans happy, to play the way we want to play, and I think things so far are going well.
Brazil can play badly but still win games, that’s why they are still the great favourites.”
Though Argentina aren’t yet mathematically certain of progressing through to the last 16, it is thought that ‘El Diego’ will gamble by resting many of his first-choice XI against Greece – with Sergio Aguero, Juan Sebastian Veron and Diego Milito expected to start in place of Carlos Tevez, Jonas Gutierrez and Javier Mascherano.
Dom backs Anelka call…
Unsurprisingly, France coach Raymond Domenech (the most belligerent man in world football™) has backed his decision to send outspoken striker Nicolas Anelka home from the World Cup after the pair’s much-publicised half-time bust-up during Les Bleus‘ defeat at the hand’s of Mexico.
Speaking ahead of France’s crucial final group tie with South Africa later today, Domenech told the assembled media;
“The sanction is justified and I support the federation. Nobody should behave in such a way. High level sportsmen have to lead by example.”
Domenech then explained his reasoning behind the decision to read out his squad’s statement (detailing their refusal to train after Anelka’s sacking) in front of the television cameras on Monday morning;
“It was an aberration. We had to do something. The French people had a right to know.
What I should have said at the end of the message was that I did not support this action.
With the [FFF] president [Jean-Pierre Escalettes] and staff members we tried to convince them it was stupid. I disagreed with the document. What they were doing was unthinkable.
We’ve wasted a lot of energy. There are no words to explain what has happened. I’m hoping we will now have action on the pitch rather than off it.”
You and about 60 million other people I can think of.
Incoming coach Laurent Blanc is going to be sainted as soon as he takes the reigns at this rate.
Wait, there is even more…
It is being reported that France captain Patrice Evra went AWOL from a press conference yesterday evening, and that FIFA are now set to launch an investigation into the Manchester United defender’s no-show.
Coach Raymond Domenech told reporters that a meeting is to be scheduled with Evra later today to discuss his absence, and that he may decide to strip the left-back of the captain’s armband as a result.
Read Goal’s full report.
UPDATE: Domenech has now confirmed that there is a ‘possibility‘ that some of his players may boycott their upcoming game against South Africa in protest over the treatment of Nicolas Anelka.
Rafael Van Der Vaart warmed up before Holland’s recent game with Japan by firing a few shots into an open goal – nothing unusual about that.
However, it just so happened that an official FIFA net-tweaker was stationed behind the particular goal in question, and consequently ended up taking a hefty slap to the guts for his troubles.
We shouldn’t laugh – it looks like it bloody hurt – but the look the FIFA cronie gives the Dutch midfielder is priceless.
Quote of the day…
“Does your mother not allow you to go, you homosexual slut?”
France winger Franck Ribery‘s alleged response to international teammate Yoann Gourcuff when the latter turned down the former’s invitation to a ‘gentleman’s club’.
(From the Daily Mirror)
And in other news…
Matthew Upson will definitely start for England against Slovenia tomorrow – deputising for the injured Jamie Carragher. (Guardian)
Slovenia captain Robert Koren is remaining hopeful of his country making it through to the second round, sending England packing in the process. (F365)
A trial date has been set for the fan who breached stadium security to enter England’s dressing room after the Algeria game. (BBC Sport)
Holland winger Arjen Robben has been told he can decide whether or not he is fit enough to face Cameroon on Thursday. (BBC Sport)
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 (Tuesday 22nd June) round is as follows:
- Mexico vs Uruguay
- France vs South Africa
- Greece vs Argentina
- Nigeria 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…