3 July 2010

GERMANY 4 (Muller 3, Klose 67, Friedrich 74, Klose 89)

Argentina's crap defence faced it's first real test of the tournament and we got confirmation that their defence was indeed crap. Muller easily lost his marker, Otamendi, to head in Schweinsteiger's free kick. Germany were stringing passes together on the left, Heinze threw himself at the ball to intercept a pass, got a feint touch but straight into traffic, Muller burst into the box and pulled the ball back to Klose who blazed over, bad miss. Higuain pleaded with the ref, Irmatov, to show Muller a yellow for handball after he intercepted from Messi, who handled the ball himself on the same play. It means Muller misses the next match which is of course a huge blow but may give an opportunity to the player that was once Germany's big hope before the sudden explosion of talent - Toni Kroos.

Charlize Theron was in the stands and judging by the glum look on her beautiful face was rooting for Argentina. Angela Merkel was in the stands as well but let's face it, no one wants to fuck her.

Argentina bossed most of the second half, without troubled Neuer. The Germans rediscovered how to the pass the ball and scored a second. Boateng passed to Khedira then ran back into defence, Khedira ran past Messi and played a ball into Muller, despite falling under a Demichelis challenge Muller poked the ball through to Podolski and Klose tapped his centre into an empty net. Ozil played a corner short to Schweinsteiger, they exchanged passes again, Schweinsteiger took up a better angle before slaloming his way between Di Mari and Pastore as he cut into the box, feigned to pass then dribbled outside Higuain before finally pulled the ball back for Friedrich to slide home #3. Brilliant. Argentina were destroyed on a counter attack. Heinze dived in to tackle Schweinsteiger and deflected the ball to Ozil, he played a delayed one-two with Podolski, collected the striker's return ball after making an overlapping run, Klose called for the cross, Ozil obliged and Klose volleyed low past Romero. Klose's 14th World Cup goal which ties him with Gerd Muller and puts him one behind Ronaldo. Klose was quick to pay tribute to Muller :

"I do have 14 goals now like Gerd Mueller but Mueller played at only two World Cups and this is already my third. That's why the comparison is unfair.". Classy.

This match should end the tiresome debates comparing Messi with Maradona, for now at least. Messi has been just as big a flop as Rooney and Ronaldo. Modern players cannot handle man to man marking, they're a class below the true greats.

I had to leave home and listened to the last 10 minutes on the radio. Carlton Palmer, of all people, made a brilliant point. He said 'England need to copy Germany, in how their clubs are run with fans getting a say, in how they develop their players, in how they play the game. We need to copy Germany' - words to that effect.

Attendance : 64,100
Assists : Schweinsteiger (fk), Podolski, Schweinsteiger, Ozil

SPAIN 1 (Villa 83)

The throw in has been a major weapon at this World Cup. Paraguay won one deep in their own half and broke quickly, spreading the play out wide to Morel who was in acres of space down the left, his superb cross was just missed by Santana. Paraguay had a goal ruled out for offside, presumably because Cardozo was adjudged to be interfering with play. Spain keep getting the calls. Valdez, who is an appalling footballer, wasted a glorious chance in first half injury time from a lightning Paraguay counter attack. Alcaraz played the ball out of defence, Cardozo's back heel sent Valdez away, he stepped inside Puyol but shot high and wide, awful finish.

Pique yanked hard on Cardozo's left arm with both hands when defending a corner, eventually bringing him down - penalty. Cardozo looked like a dead man walking and it was no surprise when his poor penalty was saved by Casillas. A minute or so later a quickly taken free kick released Villa, Alcaraz put an arm on his right shoulder and the dirty little cheat took a superman dive to win a penalty. Xabi Alonso blasted the ball into the left corner but the ref made him re-take for encroachment. The Spanish encroached again, Villar dived right to save then scrambled to his feet and FLOORED Fabregas, Ramos hammered the ball goalwards but Da Silva cleared off the line. Amazing. The penalty incidents gave Spain a jolt and they suddenly sprang to life. Fabregas found his future Barcelona team-mate (he's far too good to stay at a club like Arsenal) on the left of the box, he curled a shot towards the top right corner drawing a highlight reel save from Villar. On 83 minutes it finally clicked. Fabregas played Iniesta's pass into Xavi, who backheeled the ball into Iniesta as he spun away from his marker, Iniesta burst two tackles, played a blind pass to his right, Pedro's shot came off the left post, Villa's went in off the right. Casillas fumbled a speculative shot, Santa Cruz bore down on the rebound but shot straight at the Real Madrid 'keeper. Villa should have scored a second on an immediate break but his tired shot was easily saved.

Attendance : 55,359
Assists : n/a

2 July 2010

URUGUAY 1 (Forlan 55 fk)
GHANA 1 (Muntari 45)

Uruguay were on top from the start but failed to create many clear cut chances. The Ghana defence let a throw-in bounce in the box, Suarez struck a brilliant half volley which was matched by a spectacular (Kofi) Kingson fingertip save. Vorsah got above Lugano to meet Muntari's corner with a thumping header, just wide of the top left corner. The Ghanaians broke after Suarez fell under a challenge and waited in vain for a free kick, Boateng flicked the ball past Victorino as he dived in with a tackle and beat three defenders with a fantastic centre but not surprisingly the woeful Gyan shot wide of the right post. Scotti replaced Lugano who was injured when a Ghanaian fell on him. Fucile almost broke his neck, landing headfirst when challenging Inkoom for a cross. Inkoom lost his marker on a throw-in, crossed and Boateng flashed a scissor kick over the bar. In first half injury time Muntari turned onto a pass from Gyan and let rip with a fantastic low shot from 35 yards into the bottom right corner. The ref blew for half time as the Ghanaians celebrated.

Pantsil swept Fucile to concede a free kick way out wide left of the box, Forlan curled the ball up and above the wall and into the top right corner, FANTASTIC goal. Suarez blew two chances to finish of Ghana in normal time. Forlan controlled Vorsah's poor defensive header, ran wide and whipped a brilliant cross to the back post but Suarez was off target. Suarez exchanged passes with Fucile from a throw-in, Fucile passed to Lodeiro, he poked the ball through to Suarez but he blasted straight at Kingson at his near post.

Uruguay were jobbed out of a penalty when Pantsil floored Abreu, on for the disappointing Cavani, with a clumsy challenge. Scotti almost put the ball into his own net when trying to clear from Gyan. Fucile headed a Pantsil throw-in across his own goal but Boateng headed wide. Muslera made a brilliant save at his near post to keep out a deflected Boateng cross. Adiyiah went down under no contact whatsoever to win an extremely charitable free kick, 17 seconds from the end of the second period of extra time. Those 17 seconds are among the most dramatic in World Cup history. Boateng headed on Pantsil's free kick, Muslera just beat Mensah to the ball, punching it away but only as far as Appiah, his shot was blocked on the line by Suarez, Adiyiah threw himself at the rebound, his header was spiked off the line by Suarez, Muslera caught the ball, the ref whistled, showed Suarez red and pointed to the spot. Gyan smashed the penalty against the crossbar and Suarez celebrated as he walked off the pitch and the ref whistled again - for penalties.


At the Ghana end

Forlan - right of centre, Kingson dives in the opposite direction
Gyan - he showed big balls to take this, high into the top right corner
Victorino - blasted into the top left corner, brilliant penalty
Appiah - hammered high into the top left corner, Muslera almost got a touch
Scotti - Awful penalty, central but Kingson dived early to his left
Mensah - Awful, weak penalty, just right of centre, easily saved
Maxi Pereira - OMG, shocking penalty, into outer space, it just came down and took out my satellite dish
Adiyiah - Another poor penalty, right of centre, Muslera gets one hand to the ball and stops it
Abreu - PANENKA! Chipped straight down the middle, AMAZING penalty

Uruguay win 4-2 on penalties.

Attendance : 84,017
Red Card : Suarez 120 (Uruguay)
Assists : Gyan, Fucile (won fk)

NETHERLANDS 2 (Sneijder 53, Sneijder 68)
BRAZIL 1 (Robinho 10)

Standing on the centre circle Melo played a pass through a huge gap between the Dutch centrebacks and Robinho ran onto the ball and shot wide of Stekelenburg. Ridiculously easy goal, awful defending. The Dutch failed to clear a corner, Alves turned Kuyt inside out twice before firing in a low centre which Juan blazed over the bar. Robinho chased down a ball and held off De Jong and van der Wiel, Luis Fabiano backheeled his pass to Kaka' and his curling shot was superbly saved by Stekelenburg. Brazil almost recreated Carlos Alberto's legendary goal against Italy with a sweeping move, Maicon had the last shot but was denied by more Stekelenburg brilliance.

The Dutch won a free kick way out wide on the left wing, Robben played the ball to Sneijder, he drove in a cross, Julio Cesar flapped and Felipe Melo headed into his own net. Kuyt ran forward to flick on a Robben corner and Sneijder, one of the smallest players on the pitch, jumped to head the ball past a motionless Brazilian defence. Felipe Melo tripped Robben then stamped on the back of his left knee. The Japanese referee ran over and showed him a red card. Fortunately Robben wasn't hurt. Van Persie held up a Sneijder pass, tried to turn Juan but couldn't shake him, Sneijder took the ball off him and struck a tame first time shot at Inter team-mate Julio Cesar. Kaka' should have drawn Brazil level a minute later but didn't have enough pace to beat Ooijer whose deflected the ball out for a corner.

An inexplicable defensive collapse by Brazil. They never recovered from the first goal, let alone the second. The Kaka' lead counter attack was a key weapon in Dunga's Brazil side but injuries have robbed Kaka' of the pace that made his so lethal on the break and there was no alternative, which is why Dunga will come in for criticism, not that it matters as he quit hours later.

Attendance : 40,186
Red Card : Felipe Melo 73 (Brazil)
Assists : Felipe Melo, Robben (fk), Kuyt