Sunday, June 20, 2010

Group H opening games

Chile 1-0 Honduras

Chile were worthy winners. They attacked with verve and imposed themselves on the game right from the outset. Honduras were forced to spend most of their time defending although they did have a couple of reasonable opportunities. It was a bit of a surprise that Chile were only able to score one goal, and a slightly fortuitous one at that - a sumptuous move ended with Mendoza inadvertently playing the ball against Beausejour's backside resulting in a goal. Sanchez was particularly impressive throughout the game as were the likes of Vidal and Valdivia. The referee was one of the tournament's worst however including a yellow card for mistaken identity to Palacios, yellow cards for clean tackles, and missing a probable penalty.

Switzerland 1-0 Spain

As the game got underway my first thought, as it probably was always going to be, - Spain can afford to have Fabregas and Torres on the bench. What a squad they have! Spain employed a five man midfield consisting of Xabi Alonso, Busquets, Xavi, Silva and Iniesta with Villa leading the line, Pique, Puyol, Ramos and Capdevilla in defence, and Casillas in goal. In other words, a five star line-up with the quality of Navas, Fabregas, Torres and Pedro on the bench.

As the game got into its swing I marvelled at the beautiful passing of the Spanish team. They kept possession so effortlessly, their short and long range passing so precise and their build up play patient and composed, they were an absolute delight to watch. Spain dominated proceedings and created some decent opportunities but not as many as they should have given their dominance. Switzerland defended very well and Grichting in particular was impressive at the back.

The winning goal came as a result of a break away, ricochets galore, confusion in the box and ultimately a ball stabbed home from close range by Fernandes. The Swiss goal was put under intense pressure for the rest of the match but they held firm for their first ever victory against Spain, putting the favourites into trouble in the early stages of Group H. Surprisingly Fabregas wasn't even given the opportunity off the substitutes bench, Torres was but was unable to provide the goal that Spain were so desperately crying out for.

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