Second in the new Ligue 1 – 20 for 20 series, a young star starting to turn heads in France this season.

Starting his second season in charge of Stade Rennais Frédéric Antonetti had a tough task in front of him. Asamoah Gyan, Jimmy Briand, Moussa Sow and Ismael Bangoura had all left the Brittany club in the summer giving the former Nice manager a selection headache. However as the season has progressed it looks like he could have the perfect cure right under his nose.

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Quarter Final time, and teams only 2 games from the final, some classic games lined up and the two games today did not let anyone down, Brazil and Holland played out a good match however the limelight was stolen by Uruguay and Ghana a tremendous match end to end action, great goals controversy, heroes, villians, it had everything.

NETHERLANDS

2

 

BRAZIL

1

Wesley SNEIJDER (53′ 68′)     ROBINHO (10′)  
         
1.Maarten STEKELENBERG     1.Julio CESAR  
2.Gregory VAN DER WIEL – Y     2.MAICON  
3.John HEITINGA – Y     3.LUCIO – C  
5.Giovanni VAN BRONCKHORST     4.JUAN  
6.Mark VAN BOMMEL     5.Felipe MELO – R  
7.Dirk KUYT     6.Michel BASTOS – Y OUT – 62
8.Nigel DE JONG – Y     7.ELANO  
9.Robin VAN PERSIE OUT – 85   8.Gilberto SILVA  
10.Wesley SNEIJDER     9.Luis FABIANO OUT – 77
11.Arjen ROBBEN     10.KAKA  
13.Andre OOIJER     11.ROBINHO  
         
Subs     Subs  
21.Klass Jan HUNTELAAR IN – 85   16.GILBERTO IN – 62
      21.NILMAR IN – 77

MY THOUGHTS
Brazil could not have hoped for a better start, Melo’s great pass found Robinho 1 on 1 and he finished neatly and Brazil looked in cruise control some lovely football, passing and moving off the ball, Holland looked lost of ideas and the best thing that happened for them was the half time whistle.

I don’t think anyone could see a way back for the Dutch or how the Brazilians could not find a way to extend their lead, Sneijder found a way though swinging a free kick in from the left, Melo jumped to head the ball away but he only got a slight contact and Cesar was unable to punch it away, an equaliser that shocked everyone, the Brazilians were the most effected the passing stopped flowing and movement wasn’t the same, from that point I could only see one winner, and I wasn’t wrong, Holland won a corner, it was whipped into the near post Kuyt flicked it on and Sneijder was left alone to head the ball past Cesar a shock lead, the Oranje delighted and Brazil had no way back Kaka’, Robinho, and Luis Fabiano couldn’t combine to any effect and the Netherlands booked their place in the semi-finals.

It really was a game of two halves, no Dutch players to mention from the first half and no Brazilians to mention from the second half, Robinho started very brightly, the touch and passing was superb, causing endless problems for van der Wiel on the right of Hollands defence.

Also the Brazilian defending overall in the first half was fantastic, everytime the Dutch got near the Brazilian box, 3 or 4 players swarmed round them, Lucio and Juan did a great job of slowing the attack down so the midfield could close in, a great display of defending.

In the second half I thought Sneijder was the best player on the pitch started getting on the ball controlling the game, Robben was quiet second half, apart from that no Dutch players stood out for me, just the fact the Brazilians stopped playing and allowed the pressure to build on them.

Overall I think it has to go down as a bad Brazilian performance, Melo has to take the blame, cause the first goal, lost his man for the second and sent off for a horrible stamp, Brazil were the favourites to win the whole thing but this performance really let them down, Holland move on and have a great chance to make the final and could win the tournament playing in a not typically Dutch style.

URUGUAY

1

 

GHANA

1

Diego FORLAN (55′)     Sulley MUNTARI (45+2′)  
         
Penalties        
Diego FORLAN Goal   Asamoah GYAN Goal
Mauricio VICTORINO Goal   Stephen APPIAH Goal
Andres SCOTTI Goal   John MENSAH Miss
Maxi PEREIRA Miss   Dominic ADIYIAH Miss
Sebastian ABREU Goal      
         
         
1.Fernando MUSLERA     22.Richard KINGSON  
2.Diego LUGANO OUT – 38   2.Hans SARPEI – Y  
4.Jorge FUCILE     3.Asamoah GYAN  
6.Mauricio VICTORINO     4.John PANTSIL – Y  
7.Edinson CAVANI  OUT – 76   5.John MENSAH – C – Y  
9.Luis SUAREZ     6.Anthony ANNAN  
10.Diego FORLAN     7.Samuel INKOOM  OUT – 74
15.Diego PEREZ     11.Sulley MUNTARI  OUT – 88
16.Maximiliano PEREIRA     15.Issac VORSAH  
17.Egidio AREVALO     21.Kwadwo ASAMOAH  
20.Alvaro FERNANDEZ  OUT – 46   23.Kevin Prince BOATENG  
         
Subs        
13.Sebastian ABREU IN – 76   10.Stephen APPIAH IN – 74
14.Nicolas LODEIRO IN – 46   18.Dominic ADIYIAH IN – 88
19.Andres SCOTTI IN – 38      

MY THOUGHTS

Game of the tournament  I think, it had everything you can ask for in a football match, a great goal (Muntari) great set-piece (Forlan) drama, a player making a sacrifice for his team (Suarez), pressure (Gyan), and them the ultimate drama in a penalty shootout, the bravery of Gyan to score his 2nd penalty, I could go on all day.

Uruguay started the better of the two teams then just before Half-Time Ghana settled down and began attacking, could have scored a couple but it was Sulley Muntari who opened the deadlock with a wonder strike.

Diego Forlan got his team back in the game with a quite tremendous free kick, it seemed to swere from left to right and Kingson’s movement let him down taking a step to the left before watching the ball fire past him and into the top corner.

The game went to Extra-Time and seemed to be heading to penalties in injury time Ghana won a corner and a scamble ensued in the box Appaih had his shot blocked, the ball came to Adiyah’s head surely he must score….but Luis Suarez was there, but this time blocking with his hands, the linesman spotted it, and the referee pointed to the spot, with the last kick of the ball, Asamoah Gyan would either send his team to the World Cup semi-finals or take the game to penalties. The width of the crossbar decided Ghana’s fate, Gyan went for power and not accuracy and the latter failed him, Uruguay and Ghana would decide the game on the lottery of a penalty shoot out.

In all penalty shootouts there are heroes and villains, unfortunately for Ghana they had the villains on their side Captain John Mensah and young Dominic Adiyah missing the spot kicks and it was Sebastien Abreu who stepped up and cooly chipped the ball past the diving Kingson, Suarez the Uruguayan hero, the continent of Africa in disbelief, so close but yet so far.

Kingson the goalkeeper had a good game, making some quality saves one even striking his face, didn’t have a chance with any of the penalties, Boateng and Annan were fantastic in the Ghana midfield, Boateng came to life when asked to play behind Gyan, Annan enhanced his reputation with a solid performance, very likely he’ll be moving from Rosenborg very soon. Not much else I can add to previous reviews of Asamoah Gyan’s performances at this World Cup, he showed he has considerable mental strength, after missing a penalty to win the game for his team he stepped up in the shootout and struck a beautiful penalty into the top corner.

Uruguay will miss Suarez in the semi-final he was always dangerous, looked dead on his feet in extra time (probably why he used his hands) Forlan had a great game, always looking to break forward, scored a great goal, pretty much lead his team forward, a captain’s performance.When Lugano came off injured his replacement Scotti did well hard to come in and play at centre back but he looked assured and never got caught out, also scored his penalty.

A great game to watch, outshone the Netherlands v Brazil game by a mile and Uruguay back in the semi-finals for the first time since 1970 still no African team made it past the Quarter-Finals, they’re getting closer.

SEMI FINALS – NETHERLANDS v URUGUAY

Suarez, van der Wiel and de Jong all missing through suspension, Diego Lugano will miss out through injury, some big decisions to make for both coaches, should be a good game, Netherlands will start as favourites but I don’t think Uruguay are that far away from causing an upset, the loss of Suarez is a huge blow after all the goals he’s scored in Holland, but maybe a more unfarmilar player to them like Cavani and Abreu will cause them more problems, a change to the Netherlands defence and central midfield could cause disruption to the Oranje machine but they have quality players to come in, looking forward to this one, so much at stake for both teams.

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The start of the knockout stages and if the other games are to be as good as the two we had today then it shall be a great tournament, at stake for the teams today the knowledge that 1 of the 4 teams would be in the semi-finals on the 6th of June.

URUGUAY

2

 

KOREA REPUBLIC

1

Luis SUAREZ (8′, 80′)     LEE Chung Yong (68′)  
         
1.Fernando MUSLERA     18.JUNG Sung Ryong  
2.Diego LUGANO     4.CHO Yong Hyung – Y  
3.Diego GODIN OUT – 46   7.PARK Ji Sung  
4.Jorge FUCILE     8.KIM Jung Woo – Y  
7.Edinson CAVANI     10.PARK Chu Young  
9.Luis SUAREZ OUT – 84   12.LEE Young Pyo  
10.Diego FORLAN     13.KIM Jae Sung OUT – 61
11.Alvaro Pereira OUT – 74   14.LEE Jung Soo  
15.Diego PEREZ     16.KI Sung Yueng OUT – 85
16.Maximiliano PEREIRA     17.LEE Chung Yong  
17.Egidio AREVALO     22.CHA Du Ri – Y  
         
Subs     Subs  
6.Mauricio VICTORINO IN – 46   19.YEOM KI Hun IN – 85
14.Nicolas LODEIRO IN – 74   20.LEE Dong Gook IN – 61
20.Alvaro FERNANDEZ IN – 84      

MY THOUGHTS

This game for me went from really exciting to poor at times but after Korea equalised it perked back up, only for Luis Suarez to curl an absolute beauty into the top corner and Jung could do nothing to stop it, Korea were stunned and couldn’t do anything in the last 10 minutes to salvage the match.

Uruguay keeper Muslera went missing for the Korea goal, flapping wildly at a cross and Lee was there to head it into the net, so far Muslera had looked pretty solid but he was to blame for Uruguay losing their first goal of the tournament, Forlan has a quiet game for his high standards apart from the cross that Jung missed that led to Suarez first goal, he didn’t really create anything else, however he did work very hard, running over 10km in the match that’s 2.5km more than the Uruguay team ran in average, shows the strikers work rate for his country. Cavani also had a good game, wandering all over the pitch trying to find space to open up the Koreans, failed to get any attempts on goal, but it was his running and passing that created chances for Uruguay.

Korean were decent but nowhere near the performances against Greece and Nigeria, Ki Sung-Yueng again was the architect in the midfield most moves go through him and he linked up well with Park Ji-Sung and Park Cho-Young, Lee Chung-Yong was busy down the right providing a few great crosses there was just no quality in the final third and it was only a goalkeeping error that got them back in the match.

In the end the better team won, Suarez answering some critics about his goal scoring record, scoring one of the goals of the tournament.

USA

1

 

GHANA

2

Landon DONOVAN (62′ PEN)     Kevin Prince BOATENG (5′)  
      Asamoah GYAN (93′)  
         
1.Tim HOWARD     22.Richard KINGSON  
3.Carlos BOCANEGRA – C – Y     2.Hans SARPEI  
4.Michael BRADLEY     3.Asamoah GYAN  
6.Steve CHERUNDOLO – Y     4.John PANTSIL  
8.Clint DEMPSEY     5.John MENSAH  
10.Landon DONOVAN     6.Anthony ANNAN  
12.Jonathan BORNSTEIN     7.Samuel INKOOM  
13.Ricardo CLARK – Y OUT – 31   8.JONATHAN Mensah – Y  
15.Jay DeMERIT     13.Andre AYEW – Y  
17.Jozy ALTIDORE OUT – 91   21.Kwadwo ASAMOAH  
20.Robbie FINDLEY OUT – 46   23.Kevin Prince BOATENG  
         
Subs     Subs  
9.Herculez GOMEZ IN – 91   10.Stephen APPIAH IN – 78
19.Maurice EDU IN – 31   11.Sulley MUNTARI IN – 113
22.Benny FEILHABER IN – 46   19.Lee ADDY IN – 73

MY THOUGHTS

Africa will be smiling tonight, after a great start and a great goal from Boateng, Ghana were the better team in the first half, the second was all about the US, Bradley made changes and they cam out fighting and pulled it back with Donovan’s penalty, they couldn’t however capatilise on the pressure they applied, the game went to Extra-Time and looked set for penalties until Ayew played a high ball over the top Gyan raced onto it, rode a challenge from Bocanegra and smashed a volley past Howard and sent the whole continent into raptures.

Left back Sarpei was solid chasing up and down the flank and also helping in the middle, was also impressed by the Mensah dup at the back John and Jonathan a mixture of young and experienced and they good had a good game, young Jonathan has come into his own in this tournament, the older Mensah needs to not give the ball away so much.

The performances of the midfield and striker were fantastic, Boateng, Asamoah, Ayew and Gyan played at their best, all covering each other and also supporting Gyan upfront whenever they could, not afraid to take a shot or charge forward, they would have troubled any time with this performance, I need to single out Asamoah Gyan, he played his best game for me, it’s a tough job to play up on your own, looking at the game stats you can see how hard he worked, running over 12.5km the old cliché “worked his socks off” applies to Gyan, 7 shots on goal and 55 passes also showing he linked up well with the midfield two of the qualities you need when playing up on his own. Adding then to his great performance a wonder goal, chasing the ball over the top then did so well to hold off Bocanegra after a blatant shoulder barge then managed to set himself for a fantastic volley, Howard had no chance and wild celebrations followed.

Ghana will now play Uruguay in the Quarter-Finals and only a fool would write off Ghana’s chances, they will have a go at Uruguay probably more than anytime has so far in this tournament, Uruguay will start as favourites as they have only conceded 1 goal and impressed doing so.

A very close game for me, I think Uruguay will just sneak it, Extra-Time may be needed.

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