Day Four will not go down as a classic in World Cup history however 6 teams got their tournament under way and I’m not sure many people would have predicted the outcomes, the much anticipated Dutch started off with a 2-0 win, but didn’t play anywhere near their famed “Total Football”, Japan then shocked Africa by beating Cameroon 1-0, some strange tactics from Paul Le Guen that I will get back to later, then Italy struggled againt Paraguay, the South Americans are my dark horses and I was happy they held onto the draw.  

NETHERLANDS

2

 

DENMARK

0

         
Daniel AGER (46′ OG)        
Dirk KUYT (85′)        
         
         
1.Maarten STEKELENBERG     1.Thomas SORENSEN  
2.Gregory VAN DER WIEL     2.Christian POULSEN  
3.John HEITINGA     3.Simon KJAER  
4.Joris MATHIJSEN     4.Daniel AGGER  
5.Giovanni VAN BRONCKHORST   6.Lars JACOBSEN  
6.Mark VAN BOMMEL     10.Martin JORGENSEN  
7.Dirk KUYT     11.Nicolas BENDTNER OUT – 62
8.Nigel DE JONG OUT – 88   12.Thomas KAHLENBERG OUT – 73
9.Robin VAN PERSIE OUT – 77   15.Simon POULSEN  
10.Wesley SNEIJDER     19.Dennis ROMMEDAHL  
23.Rafael VAN DER VAART OUT – 67   20.Thomas ENEVOLDSEN OUT – 56
         
Subs     Subs  
16.Michel VORM     16.Stephan ANDERSEN  
22.Sander BOSCHKER     12.Jesper CHRISTIANSEN  
11.Arjen ROBBEN     5.William KVIST  
12.Khalid BOULAHROUZ     7.Daniel JENSEN  
13.Andre OOIJER     8.Jesper GRONKJAER IN – 56
14.Demy DE ZEEUW IN – 88   9.Jon Dahl TOMASSON  
15.Edson BRAAFHEID     13.Per KROLDRUP  
17.Eljero ELIA IN – 67   14.Jakob POULSEN  
18.Stijn SCHAARS     17.Mikkel BECKMANN IN – 62
19.Ryan BABEL     18.Soren LARSEN  
20.Ibrahim AFELLAY IN – 77   21.Christian ERIKSEN IN – 73
21.Klass Jan HUNTELAAR     23.Patrick MTILIGA  

 MY THOUGHTS:

A decent performance from the Dutch,a few good performances, tactical wise it just didn’t work havng van der Vaart and Sneijder in the same team,not width or pace down the left, both trying to play down the middle and without Kuyt giving natural width the Dutch played really narrow, a few times van der Wiel got down the right and cause some problems, de Jong was very lucky not to get sent off, quite a few bad tackles, van Persie suffered with the lack of service, they came to life when Elia came on giving natural width and his skill and electrifying pace terrorised the Danes, latching onto a pass from Sneijder he was unlucky to score himself but Kuyt was there to finish it off.

I would not be surprised if in the next game if Robben is still not fit Eljero Elia would start, I would if I was van Marwijk, the duo of Sneijder and van der Vaart just doesn’t work, kinda like Gerrard and Lampard for England.

The Danes started very well, defending well and hitting on the counter attack, Bendtner had a great chance to score with a header at the back post, Jorgensen and Rommedahl played well, maybe just a little old to really trouble the Dutch back line, they were dealt a major blow losing the goal so early, if they had kept a clean sheet for 10/15 minutes who knows what could have happened, they played well enough to show they can still com 2nd in the group, but they will need to execute a lot better.  

 

JAPAN

1

 

CAMEROON

0

         
Keisuke HONDA (39′)        
         
         
1.Eiji KAWASHIMA     16.Hamidou SOULEYMANOU  
2.Yuki ABE     2.Benoit ASSOU-EKOTTO  
3.Yuichi KOMANO     3.Nicolas N’KOULOU  
4.Marcus Tulio TANAKA     5.Sebastien BASSONG  
5.Yuto NAGATOMO     9.Samuel ETO’O  
7.Yasuhito ENDO     11.Jean MAKOUN OUT – 75
8.Daisuke MATSUI OUT – 69   13.Eric CHOUPO-MOTING OUT – 75
16.Yoshito OKUBO OUT – 82   15.Pierre WEBO  
17.Makoto HASEBE – C OUT – 88   18.Eyong ENOH  
18.Keisuke HONDA     19.Stephane M’BIA  
22.Yuji NAKAZAWA     21.Joel MATIP OUT – 63
         
Subs     Subs  
1.Seigo NARAZAKI     1.Idriss KAMENI  
23.Yoshikatsu KAWAGUCHI     22.Guy N’DY  
6.Atsuto UCHIDA     4.Rigobert SONG  
9.Shinji OKAZAKI IN – 69   6.Alexander SONG  
10.Shunsuke NAKAMURA     7.Landry N’GUEMO  
11.Keiji TAMADA     8.GEREMI IN – 75
12.Kisho YANO IN – 82   10.Achille EMANA IN – 63
13.Daiki IWAMASA     12.Gaetan BONG  
14.Kengo NAKAMURA     14.Aurelien CHEDJOU  
15.Yasuyuki KONNO     17.Mohamadou IDRISSOU IN – 75
19.Takayuki MORIMOTO     20.Georges MANDJECK  
20.Junichi INAMOTO IN – 88   23.Vicent ABOUBAKAR  

MY THOUGHTS:

A truly uninspiring game, I expected so much more from Cameroon, how you can play Samuel Eto’o on the right wing and not in the middle where he is one of the most dangerous players in the game, plus the inexperience of Matip and Choupo-Moting and not selecting Emana or Alexander Song surprised me.

Cameroon lacked any creativity and never really got going till late in the second half, they moved Jean Makoun to the middle and he controlled the play and was beind the chances they created, for me Le Guen got his team all wrong, of course I don’t know the ins and outs of the squad’s chemistry, but I’m sure I could have picked a better XI for this game.

Japan on the other hand will be estatic, against the run of the play, Matsui crossed in a great ball and everyone missed it except Honda who controlled it well and finished calmly, Endo has a good game playing very well in the middle of midfield, Honda was dangerous the whole game, he is the star player in the Japanese team, he has a good footballing brain, moves well, and also got an eye for goal, Okobu worked very had the whole game and ran himself ragged until he was replaced by Yano and although he didn’t sure he helped his team with all his hard work.

ITALY

1

 

PARAGUAY

1

         
Daniele DE ROSSI (63′)     Antolin ALCARAZ (39′)  
         
         
1.Gianluigi BUFFON OUT – 46   1.Justo VILLAR  
3.Domenico CRISCITO     3.Claudio MOREL  
4.Giorgio CHIELLINI     6.Carlos BONET  
5.Fabio CANNAVARO     13.Enrique VERA  
6.Daniele DE ROSSI     14.Paulo DA SILVA  
7.Simone PEPE     15.Victor CACERES  
9.Vincenzo IAQUINTA     16.Cristian RIVEROS  
11.Alberto GILARDINO OUT – 72   17.Aureliano TORRES OUT – 60
15.Claudio MARCHISIO OUT – 59   18.Nelson VALDEZ OUT – 68
19.Gianluca ZAMBROTTA     19.Lucas BARRIOS OUT – 76
22.Riccardo MONTOLIVO     21.Antolin ALCARAZ  
         
Subs     Subs  
12.Federico MARCHETTI IN – 46   12.Diego BARRETO  
14.Morgan DE SANCTIS     22.Aldo BOBADILLA  
2.Christian MAGGIO     2.Dario VERON  
8.Gennaro GATTUSO     4.Denis CANIZA  
10.Antonio DI NATALE IN – 72   5.Julio Cesar CACERES  
13.Salvatore BOCCHETTI     7.Oscar CARDOZO IN – 76
16.Mauro CAMORANESI IN – 59   8.Edgar BARRETO  
17.Angelo PALOMBO     9.Roque SANTA CRUZ IN – 68
18.Fabio QUAGLIARELLA     10.Edgar BENITEZ  
20.Giampaolo PAZZINI     11.Jonathan SANTANA IN – 60
21.Andrea PIRLO     20.Nestor ORTIGOZA  
23.Leonardo BONUCCI     23.Rodolfo GAMARRA  

MY THOUGHTS:

The top two teams in Group F meet in a rainy night in Cape Town, noone has been picking the Italians as potential winners and from tonights game you can see why, usually slow starters, but this was really slow, Paraguay played well with their 2 banks of 4 defending well and no often did the Italians get in-behind them, the 4-3-3 lacked creativity without Pirlo, when they switched to 4-4-2 with Camoranesi on the right and Pepe on the left they created more problems, and apart from some good defending by Paraguay Italy would probably scored a 2nd.

Pepe impressed me in the second half throwing in lots of good crosses, Montolivo played well in the 4-4-2 he seemed more comfortable, as did Iaquinta when he moved to the middle and not on the left wing, with the players they had in the team tonight 4-4-2 suited their styles more.

Paraguay did well, played to their gameplan, smoother the Italians play and hit on the counter attack, and it worked until De Rossi’s 63rd minute goal, Paolo da Silva had a fantastic match nothing got by him and he was a man-mountain along with Alcaraz they deserved a clean sheet, Barrios and Valdez up front ran the channels all game doing their best to provide an outlet ball, they didn’t get many goal scoring chances but they worked their socks off.

Paraguay will qualify to the last 16 I believe although Slovakia could be dangerous, it will take a good team that breaches Paraguays defence, and it will take a solid defence that’s not breached by Barrios and Valdez.

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