World Cup 2010 (Day 11): Shrug …

… Today was a bit of an odd day for me at the World Cup. Looking back, the game weren’t particularly compelling, and the matchups weren’t necessarily something to write home about to start with.

There were some interesting talking points going in, such as whether or not Spain could recapture its nearly unbeatable form and take the points against Honduras, and if Cristiano Ronaldo could spark Portugal’s attack against North Korea.

We found out that, yes, Spain could pretty easily regain its form, holding Honduras without a shot on goal in a 2-0 victory that re-ignited expectations of Spain advancing into the last 16.

We also found out that Portugal has a quite a few finishing options beyond Ronaldo, though the former Special1 TV puppet did manage to break through in Portugal’s 7-0 rout, knocking home a goal after the ball had rolled off the back of his neck in a kind of unintentional playground move. North Korea looked uninterested and absent of spirit by the end, as Portugal scored three of its goals in the final 10 minutes. The game was reportedly broadcast live in North Korea, which couldn’t have gone over well with the ruling party.

Having entered this event winless in World Cup matches since 1962, Chile doubled its pleasure today by taking its second straight of this tournament in beating Switzerland, 1-0. Chile played up a man for about the last hour after Switzerland’s Valon Behrami was sent off for a silly elbow (part of a sequence where Behrami’s arms were just kind of flailing everywhere while he was trying to possess the ball). Some might argue that the red was a bit harsh, but I didn’t have much problem with it.

But the news isn’t all good for Chile. As entertaining as Chile are, they aren’t taking advantage of all their opportunities and they almost paid dearly for it in the 90th minute, when a precision Swiss passing play found substitute Eren Derdiyok wide open in the area with only Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to beat. But Derdiyok’s shot was belted wide, and the Swiss were beaten.

With Spain playing Chile on the final group day, and Switzerland taking on Honduras, wins by Spain and Switzerland would leave three teams in the group on 6 points. Currently, Chile lead in goal differential at +2, while Spain is +1 and Switzerland is level. Despite Chile’s fast start, a 1-goal loss to Spain and a 2-goal win by Switzerland over Honduras would eliminate the Chileans, who would seriously reconsider their missed chances, despite the victories.

Part of the reason for the malaise toward today’s games is the anticipation of what we’ll see tomorrow. Round 3 of group play begins, so we’ll have four games to see, with each group concluding its matches at the same time. In the 10 a.m. Eastern time slot, it’s Group A, as France (if they show up) plays South Africa, while Uruguay takes on Mexico. A draw in the latter game sends both teams on to the last 16. In the 2:30 p.m. time slot, it’s Group B, where Argentina (6 points) leads the group by 3 points and plays Greece (3 points), while Nigeria (0 points) takes on South Korea (3 points). Any positive result pushes Argentina forward, while just based on the fixtures, you’d have to favor South Korea for the second spot.

Mexico 2-1 Uruguay
South Africa 1-0 France
Argentina 3-1 Greece
South Korea 2-0 Nigeria

Today’s Record: 2-1.
Tournament Record: 15-17.


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