Pierre Boisrond has followed soccer and the World Cup
closely for many years and also writes for other websites. We at PWC are proud to have him as
a columnist. He will share his views about the past, present and future of
the World Cup.
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Groups A, B,C, D: Summary of the Initial Matches
The FIFA 2010 World Cup has begun. In group A, we have seen South Africa rise to the occasion. After some early jitters against Mexico, they were able to settle down. Mexico could have destroyed South Africaís hope in the first half, but the Mexicans were unable to capitalize. Teams that keep missing scoring opportunities can heavily pay the consequences and Mexico almost paid that price in the last minute of the game. First, it was Tshabalala of South Africa who sent the South Africans fans in a frenzy after magnificently opening the score for the host nation with a mighty left-footed shot that no goalies would have ever stopped. As usual, with the Africans teams, they tend to lose their concentration in the game by giving Marquez the equalizer for Mexico. Mexico must think ďlos dioses del futbolĒ (the gods of football) because South Africa almost buried Mexico in the 90th minute. I think the tie was a good result because either team could have won it. Had South Africa scored that second goal, then the celebrations in every corner of the country would have been a celebration for the ages and I would have been glad to participate as well. 1-1 was a fair score.
The second game in group A was with France and Uruguay. The game ended up with a tie. In this game, I was expecting a very rigid defense from Uruguay and this is what Uruguay was able to display against the French Internationals. Uruguay is heavily relied on the skills of Forlan and he did not disappoint at all. However, The Uruguayans seem to be limited on offense and they donít seem to have some creativity in the midfield. For France, this is a national team that is not united. The players do not respond to their coach and they also know that after the world cup, Domenech will no longer be the coach. I wonder why Benzema is not part of this team and why Henry has to be a subbed. The French need to get their act together or they might need to buy their tickets back to Paris because Mexico and South Africa will not make it easier. In Group A none of the teams has any advantage. Each team has 1 point. Now, it is all back to where they started. France vs. Mexico and Uruguay vs. South Africa will be the next games in group A. Will Mexico send the French back to the Champs Elysee or Will Ribery step up to the Mexican challenge? We shall find out soon. Will Tshabalala dance over the Charruas or Will Forlan carry the load of a country on his back?
In Group B, We have seen how South Korea walked over Greece like a machine. The South Koreans are very good collectively and their midfield seems to function very well. This is a very good start for the South Koreans because they still have to face the talented Argentina national team. The South Koreans have done what they were supposed to do by beating a Greek national team without any idea. Concerning Greece, the road ahead will be very difficult for them, they will have to face Argentina and Nigeria. None of these teams will make it easy for the Greek. The time has come now for the Greek to step it up. However, I canít see how they will do it when the opponents are Nigeria and Argentina with the best footballer on the planet, Lionel Messi. The games have to be played and Greece still has a chance, but they need to play better against Nigeria in their next game to give some hope to the people of Greece.
The Second game in group B was Nigeria vs. Argentina. The whole world was waiting to see the talented Lionel Messi. Surely, the Argentine messiah did not disappoint us. This is the best game that Messi had played for the National team. He has shown why he is FIFA world player of the year. It was a game that Argentina could have scored at least five goals. However, with Gonzalo Higuain needed 5 or more opportunities before he could score, Argentina could not take a larger advantage. It was ďEl GringoĒ Heinze who has rescued Argentina after a great performance. For me, I never seem to have any faith on Higuain. Heís a type of striker that needs to miss 3 or more opportunities before he could score a goal. In this game, he had several clear opportunities that he should have put into the net, but he squandered them. I wonder if Maradona will replace him with Diego Milito in the next game against South Korea. But Knowing Maradonaís style of coaching, he will leave Higuain for the next game. Despite the brilliance of Messi, he could not score. The credit must go to the Nigerian goalie, Vincent Enyema, the Nigerians would have found themselves with a greater goal of deficit. In that game, there were two best players, Messi and Enyema.
Nigeria played tentatively by giving too much respect to Argentina. When Nigeria decided to attack, they did put the shaky defense of Argentina on its heels. Losing 1-0 to Argentina is not a bad result for Nigeria. It is not a bad result because South Korea and Greece will have to face Argentina. The Nigerians will have to step it up against Greece if they are looking forward to go to the next round. If they can beat Greece and Argentina beats South Korea, then Nigeria and South Korea will have to play a world cup final to advance to the round of 16. However, Greece wonít be making it easy for Nigeria. The game will have to be played and both teams will be going for the win. If not, they will have to book their tickets to return home.
Though Argentina thinks they can beat South Korea, it wonít be easy for the men under the direction of Diego Armando Maradona. Maradona was not happy with the misses against Nigeria because a team that misses so many chances can really find itself in the losing end. The South Koreans need to go for a win and perhaps they can come up with a tie. The defense of Argentina is very shaky. Jonas Gutierrez and Demichelis seem to be a liability. Nigeria could have tied the game. But the Super Eagles decided not to attack much. When they attacked, the Argentines were very vulnerable in the back. In the midfield, Juan Sebastian Veron looks a bit tired and I donít think he can play a full 90 minutes. In this World Cup, Argentina will definitely the talented Juan Roman Riquelme. He is a player that could have put a lot of control in Argentinaís midfield. The South Koreans are extremely fast and they can cause some nightmares for the defense of Argentina. South Korea will attack Argentina and the Albiceleste defenders need to be ready. The next games will be Argentina vs. South Korea and Nigeria vs Greece. The South Koreans are currently in 1st place with a better goal differential of plus +2 and Argentina in second place with a goal differential of +1. Both national teams will be facing each other to decide the first place. The Argentines are the favorites but the game must play first.
In Group C, the world was waiting for USA vs. England. In 1950, the Haitian Player, Joseph Edouard Gaetjens, who scored the winning goal for the Americans. This time, many were asking whether or not Jozy Altidore whom his parents are from Haiti would shock England. Well, in the USA there was hope that US would have defeated England. They came close to do that with Altidore. However, It did not take long for England to put the USA on its heels after Steven Gerrard found the net. The USA defenders looked their concentration in the back and England buried the first goal to dismay of the talented American goalie, Tim Howard. Howard had become big for the Americans. He has kept them into the game. After the goal, the Americans kept their composure and to the surprise of everyone in the whole world, David Green, the English goalie, gave a gift to Clint Dempsey who scored for the Americans. The Americans were chanting USA, USA, USA, in every pub in the United States.
Concerning England, It was a disappointing performance. England seemed to have no creative ideas in the midfield. And Fabio Capello, the experience club coach, seems to be undecided in his changes. Fabio Capello is the highest paid national coach, so he needs to find a way to bring confidence back to England national team players. They have provided a gift to the Americans, but the Americans did not crumble at the end. As a matter of fact, the USA could have won the game if it were not for the post that saved David Green and England after a wicked run by Jozy Altidore. Mistakes do happen in the games, and I donít think David Greene should be blamed, but again a goalie should be at the highest concentration during the game. Again, I donít seem to like the ball used in this tournament. It seems to be a very complicated ball. I donít know why FIFA and Adidas had to use the ball. This ball will cause lot of problems for players and goal keepers. Tim Howard was the best player for the USA. I could not come up with the best player for England. If I were to give a best player for England, I would have to choose David Green for stopping Jozy Altidore, otherwise it could have been mourning in England. I do expect England to rise to the occasion and they need to beat Algeria to bring some hope to the British. If not, then it might be a short trip for the British to South Africa.
The second game in this group was between Algeria and Slovenia. In this group, it seems that the goalies seem to have a very difficult problem. It was Faouzi Chaouti, the Algerian goalie, who presented a gift to Robert Koren of Slovenia. Being 1-0, the Slovenians are putting themselves at the top of group C. The only issue is that, they will have to face the USA and England. In any case, it is better to have 3 points then 1 point . It is up to the USA and England to fight into the next games if they want to go to the next round. It is doable for both the USA and England. However, Slovenia and Algeria would not make it easy for them. The next games in this group will be USA vs Slovenia and England vs Algeria. Will Donovan show up for the US and will Rooney show up for England? Both teams are in need of their superstars to raise their effort in order to drive their teams to the round of 16. Both Rooney and Donovan did not show up much in their opening game. The Algerians had found themselves in a delicate situation, and they need to ask the gods of football for some help. If not, they will have to purchase early tickets to fly back home. There is always a slim of hope for the Algerians. After all, the world cup is being hosted in their home continent, so perhaps the African gods might smile on them. We shall know soon.
In group D, Ghana came to erase the memories of the 2006 world cup. Ghana has beaten Serbia 1-0. It was a beautiful game with lot of chances for both teams. But Ghana was indeed a better team. They have taken it hard to the Serbs who seemed to lack the discipline. It was Asamoah Gyan who scored on a penalty kick with 5 minutes left in the game. It must have been a great celebration in every corner of Ghana. Ghana could have scored a second goal at the end of regulation. The Ghanaians were better. The Serbs did play fine but in a world cup, players must have discipline not to give free penalty kick to the opponent. Ghana deserved to win the game because the players were focused and they remembered the nightmare of 2006. With 3 points, Ghana sits very comfortable and they might book their trip to the round 16. For Serbia, they will have to dig very deeper because they will need to face the German submarine machine that sank the Australian battleship.
Concerning Germany, the Germans have always stepped it up to the highest level. Germany is a multicultural team. You can find players from Spain, Brazil, and Poland in their squad. In this case, Germany is a multicultural team. The Germans are very solid and I am not surprised. With Podolski, Klose, Mueller, and Cacau, the Germans have buried the Aussies. The Aussies now have no choice but to bring their highest level game against Ghana and Serbia if they need to repeat the illusion of 2006. It wonít be easy for them, but they canít give up because they have to bring some hope to the people of Australia. Australia must find a way to win and win, and win. Since Ghana and Germany grabbed their 3 points, so they are half-way to the second round. I donít see Ghana relinquish anything because they do not want to go suffer the 2006 nightmare. Germany, on the other end, has only one goal and that is to win this World Cup. So far, the Germans appeared to be ready to fight for the world most prestigious trophy.
Letís continue to enjoy the World Cup 2010 this week because we need to see the first matches of national teams in groups E, F, G and H. So far, it has been celebration in South Africa, where the whole world is now united.
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