… After 5 matches in 2 days, including all the anticipation and reaction to the US draw with England, it would be understandable if the fans were in a little bit of a haze during today’s 3 matches. Despite the fact that the opener between Algeria and Slovenia was actually very important for US and England fans.
What maybe wasn’t expected was for some of the players to be participating in the games from Mars, but some ill wind was at work today given the decision-making and reactions we saw in a couple games.
Start with the aforementioned opener, where for the longest time, Algeria and Slovenia appeared headed to the scoreless draw US and England fans were hoping for. And when Abdelkader Ghezzal was booked seconds after entering the game near the hour mark, I and probably many other folks didn’t make too much of it. But about 15 minutes later, when he earned another for making like Willie Mays Hayes trying to shag a fly ball in the attacking penalty area, Ghezzal had his second yellow and Group C was turned on its head when Slovenia captialized just minutes later, as Robert Koren sent a shot goalward, only for Algeria goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi to play it like he watched a Robert Green Instructional Video. The resulting goal allowed Slovenia to escape with a 1-0 victory and the lead in the group.
Previously, the coolest thing about Slovenia’s team was the jerseys, with the replica Charlie Brown shirt stripe on the front.
Now, they lead the group and the USA likely better beat Slovenia Friday (10 a.m. Eastern) to move on.
But never fear, Ghezzal and Chaouchi have company on the Blunder Bus. Serbia were done in against Ghana by a pair of goofs. First, Aleksandar Lukovic earned two second-half cards, the second on a foul near midfield where no Ghana player was even remotely close to being in a dangerous position. It was a silly foul and deservedly punished. Less than 10 minutes later, Zdravko Kuzmanovic decided that Ghezzal was the cult leader of quality soccer, and committed an almost equally laughable handball. His, however, came defensively, giving Ghana the World Cup’s first penalty kick (told ya ). Asamoah Gyan buried it well, giving Ghana a 1-0 victory. We should know from 2006 that this is a team not to be taken lightly.
Better soccer, thankfully, prevailed in the nightcap, but it was one-sided to say the least. Germany demolished an Australian side that I felt was going to put on a better display. The 4-0 loss could have been worse, and losing Tim Cahill to a straight red really puts the Aussies on life support just 90 minutes into the tournament when combined with their goal differential issue.
Germany got goals from four different players, and looked dangerous in multiple parts of the game. This should be a warning call, as if the US needed it, that the Americans better win Group C. As a US fan, I want no part of Germany in the round of 16.
Of the United States’ remaining group opponents, neither one today showed the pace and speed that would concern me. Both did do well at times in connecting short passes moving up field to try and build, but they didn’t have the runners to try and take advantage of that so that the attack could be more dynamic. The only player on either side that impressed me was Algeria’s Nadir Belhadj, but he wasn’t someone that I feel the US can’t handle.
There are three more games tomorrow, highlighted by the debut of my World Cup champion pick, Holland, and the first game for holders Italy. I’ll be back tomorrow night with a recap. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing your thoughts on today’s action in the Comments section below.
Holland 4-0 Denmark
Cameroon 2-1 Japan
Italy 3-1 Paraguay
Today’s Record: 3-0
Tournament Record: 5-3.