Saturday, June 17, 2006

Variety is the spice of the world cup!

Spain 4-0 Ukraine

An entertaining, one sided affair which made a statement about Spain's intentions, however in a way the final result could be described as slightly flattering.

Spain in general played with positive intent, and looked very good rampaging forward, the midfield in particular. The first three goals all however had an element of luck. Alonso's early goal squeezed between goalkeeper and defender when perhaps it should have been dealt with better, Villa's freekick was deflected to totally wrongfoot the goalkeeper and the third should never have been a penalty. The fourth however was a wonderful team goal delightfully finished by Torres. The win for Spain was never in doubt, and even if some of the goals appeared slightly lucky they were always comfortable, and were excellent throughout the park.

Ukraine were disappointing. Going forward balls lacked precision and crosses were woeful. Shevchenko had little chance to demonstrate why he is so highly rated as his teammates were unable to forge any decent opportunities for him. Yet neither did he really help himself! Voronin looked the most dangerous going forward. The red card for Vashchuk was an appalling decision which killed off any chance for a comeback, not only having to play with 10 men for almost the entire second half, but also with Villa putting away the resulting penalty 3-0 at that point was a mountain to climb. Perhaps the heat was a factor, but a must improve rating is clear.

Tunisia 2-2 Saudi Arabia.

Was I the only person in New Zealand to watch this game live? How anyone can decide not to see a world cup game simply because it involves two teams not expected to make much impression is beyond me! There is something wonderful about sitting down to a game between two closely matched countries for whom you only know about 3 of the players on the pitch before it starts. This is the magic of the world cup. And this is the chance to see if people's badmouthing is simply a result of ignorance, or an accurate reflection of the teams respective games.

Tunisia: Looked dominant in the first half and were deserving of their half time lead. Jaziri's acrobatic opening goal taken with exceptional finesse was well deserved from a player full of strong jinking running and a pleasure to watch. The second half performance was weak as Tunisia sat back on their lead but a never say die attitude saw Jaidi salvage a point. In general the team were physically strong, good on set pieces, but rather naive at times.

Saudi Arabia. After a poor first half they finally showed why they finished ahead of Korea in their qualifying pool. Their play was pacy and scored two very well taken goals from veteran Al Kahtani and record goalscorer and super sub Al Jaber. It was well deserved as Saudi Arabia showed off their attacking prowess, with Noor in particular coming into his own in the second half. Their defending was rather poor at times though as poor marking and clearing enabled Tunisia to score twice.

A draw was a fair result.

Germany 1-0 Poland

Germany have a winning mentality and a great attitude which says you should never write them off at any point.

Germany: attacked well, Ballack making inroads for them, but their shooting radar went a bit awry. Klose could have had a number of goals but was thwarted on a number of occasions by Boruc and his own below par efforts alike. Their defensive performance however was much improved. Klinsmann must be noted for his game changing substitutions as both subs combined for the winning goal. Speedy Odonkor sending in a low cross for Neuville to finish with ease. Unlucky to hit the crossbar twice within seconds Germany finally got themselves the win.

Poland performed better than they had in their opening game as they were passionate, vibrant and constantly looking for goalscoring opportunities. Not enough presented themselves though as the final ball often let them down. Boruc was sensational in goal. Sobolewski let his team down with a needless sending off for a second yellow for shirt pulling, and from this moment on the German attacking intensified. Two world cups in a row Poland have been eliminated after losing their first two games.

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