Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Group C's second round of games

Slovenia 2-2 USA

One of the games of the round! Slovenia were clearly the best team in the first half. They passed the ball around confidently, slickly and attacked with purpose. They also looked comfortable in defence. Birsa opening the scoring with a spectacular 25 yard effort past the static Tim Howard. The USA were playing decently and perhaps creating more opportunities at times, but Slovenia were unruffled. Just before half-time they doubled the lead through a Ljubijankic header after a swift counter-attack.

In the second half with the USA chasing the game they were bound to create more opportunities - their first goal came sooner rather than later. Donovan stunned the worldwide audience with a cracking finish from a very tight angle, albeit from close-range. This spurred the USA and they may have had an equaliser sooner if they had a better striker than Altidore whom I consider an average journeyman lacking in firepower. The equaliser eventually came when Bradley powered home a half volley. It was rough on the Slovenians who had defended (and played) so well but by the same token it was also just reward for concerted pressure. The USA thought they had won it when Edu finished off a Donavan free kick, however the referee spotted what appeared to be a non-existent foul.

In general the ref had had a good game but he had made two mistakes: the aforementioned disallowed goal and booking Findley for a handball when it clearly came off his head (this is significant because it means he is suspended for their final group game against Algeria).

England 0-0 Algeria

England were incredibly incredibly poor. The whole team lacked any spark and just appeared to be going through the motions. None of the players came out with any credit - if I had to choose a player who had the best game, who maybe scraped a 6/10 it would be Ashley Cole. Algeria on the other hand were engaging, played some decent football but ultimately lacked quality and thrust in the final third. Particularly poor performers for England were Glen Johnson (who lost possession so many times towards the end of the game), Rooney (who appeared off-pace all game and who was frustrated enough to try and do everything by himself...badly) and Heskey (who's inept attempt to cross the ball towards the end of the game - slipping and sliding like the donkey he is - epitomised the whole of England's performance). Capello will surely have to look at different tactics for the last game. And James, whilst keeping a clean sheet, did not look comfortable...why Hart has not played beats me, it really does. Carragher is suspended for the final game meaning a likely start for Upson, I would choose Dawson myself.

Interesting asides:

1) The fan who accidentally stumbled upon the England dressing room and gave them a piece of his mind.
2) There is real turmoil in the England camp right now (but not as bad as France!). (See also this).

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