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.
Read earlier columns
Groups E and F: An Analysis of the Initial Matches
The first match in group E was between Netherlands and Denmark. The Netherlands have always been a contender in the World Cup and their only objective is to bring the Cup to the people of Netherlands. First, they will have to pass Denmark. This is what they have done by beating Denmark 2-0. In the first half, the Orange machine was not running on its full cylinders since the Danish Internationals seemed to disrupt the offensive machine of the Dutch internationals. The first half ended 0-0. However, Denmark could have taken the lead had Nicklas Bendtner been able to bury his header before the break.
If the first half was a challenge for the Dutch Internationals, the second half started with a prayer from the gods of football after Poulsen and Agger of Denmark conceded an own goal to the Netherlands. It was a bit unfortunate that happened to Denmark since they had a good strategy to put the orange machine on neutral. The Dutch took the lead and they continued to show us what to expect in the next few games and the next round. That goal conceded by Denmark forced Denmark to go for the equalizer therefore leaving them vulnerable in the counter attack. Well, it did not take long for the talented midfielder Sneijder to feed a through ball to Eljero Elia who sent it to the post and Dirk Kuijt got the bounce to give the internationals from the Land of Down Under a 2-0 advantage. In the second half of the game, the Dutch controlled the midfield very well with Van Bommel, Nigel Dejong and Wesley Sneijder. After seeing the Dutch, I think they are a solid contender to create some noise in South Africa. I will never count the Dutch out. They came so close in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. I think the Dutch national team is ready to fight for the world prestigious prize and so far they did what they supposed to…and that was to win their first game. So far, the Netherlands have won 20 consecutive international matches and other teams need to beware of them because the Dutch won’t take any prisoners and the only prisoner they want to take with them is the World Cup trophy.
Concerning Denmark, it is unfortunate they conceded that own goal. Otherwise, the game could have had a different outcome. They still have potential to go to the next round but they need to give their best effort in their next games against Cameroon and Japan respectively.
The second game in Group E was between Cameroon and Japan. The pundits claimed that Japan was the weakest team in this group. However, Japan had proved them wrong by beating Cameroon 1-0. Japan was well organized and they were focused to control the game and made the game very difficult for the talented striker of Cameroon, Samuel Eto’o. The Japanese now grabbed themselves 3 valuable points which put them in a good position to go to the next round. However, they need to resist the Orange Machine in their second game. If not, they’ll have another chance against Denmark, but the Danish Internationals will not make it easy for the Japanese. However, the Japanese now know they are in second place with 3 points with a goal differential of +1 and the Netherlands with 3 points with a goal differential of +2. If Denmark and Cameroon want to go the second round, then the time has come for them to step their games to the highest level. If not, both national teams will need to book their ticket to Copenhagen and Yaounde respectively.
The Cameroonians were very flat today and it seems they were looking for Eto’o to bring a miracle for them. The football fans expected much from Cameroon in their own continent, but they were beaten by a better national team. If they don’t get their act together, then Eto’o and company can start packing their luggage for their respective vacation destination. In 1990, Cameroon had shown us a beautiful football. Since that time, it seems Cameroon had become a mediocre national team. Will Cameroon make it to the second round? This remains to be seen because the team showed no confidence against Japan. They could have luckily tied the game at the with 5 minutes left with a shot that smashed the crossbar. The hope of Cameroon is on Eto’o. Will he bring a miracle for the People of Cameroon like he had done for Barcelona and Inter Milan in 2009 and 2010 respectively? We shall soon find out.
In group F, there was one game today. It was Paraguay vs. Italy. The Paraguayans appeared to control the game since the beginning by confusing the Italians Internationals. I could have written this excerpt before the game because Paraguay is a very rigid team and Italy always seems to have a slow start but we can never count out the “Forza Azurri.” Paraguay did not come to play for 1 point, they wanted to get the 3 points against the 2006 FIFA World Cup Champions. It was Antolin Alcaraz who put the Paraguayans upfront with a superb header that left Buffon motionless in the 39th minute of the game. The game finished 1-0 in the first half and it was celebration in Asuncion and throughout the country.
In the second half, Italy had to go for the equalizer. However, Paraguay is a very disciplined national team and if they take a 1-0, then it will be difficult for the opponents to equalize. However, the Italians know that they are world champions and they need to salvage at least 1 point in this opening game. Most football fans can testify the way Italy will play in any world cup based on past performance. The Italians will begin like a team without any ideas, but somehow they will raise their games in the final rounds of the tournament. Perhaps this is why they have called “Forza Azurri.” Being 0-1, the Italians kept pressing the Paraguayans and finally obtained a gift from the Paraguayan goalie, Justo Villar, who completely misjudged the trajectory of the ball and therefore received the punishment from Daniele de Rossi who catapulted the ball into the net. The score was 1-1. Teams like Italy, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, opponents can’t afford to gift them opportunities, because they will capitalize on them. Instead of getting 3 points, Paraguay ended up sharing 1 point with Italy. This is a good result for both teams. However, I think Italy is fine with this single point so far because this is their style of playing in past World Cups.
The other game in group E will be today between New Zealand and Slovakia. If either team can get 3 points from that game, then New Zealand or Slovakia can find themselves in a very good position to go to the second round. It must be an exciting moment for my former engineering colleagues, Craig and TH of New Zealand. Will the All Whites take those 3 points? Slovakia will have to answer that question for us.
Let's continue to enjoy the games. We shall see later on today, Brazil vs. North Korea and Portugal vs. Ivory Coast in Group G.
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