A meeting between two of the best footballing sides in the world, a mouthwatering match-up so let our guest writers talk you through it. In the red corner is award winning writer Sian Ranscombe her blog “From a girl who loves the Gunners” is superb. And she hopes her team can follow in her trophy winning ways.

Up until a few weeks ago, I think both neutrals and fans were largely assuming this tie would be a one-way battle won easily by Barcelona. Arsenal have been inconsistent this season and if they can drop points to West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United, and let leads slip as easily as they have done, what chance do they stand against the mighty Barcelona?

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Been so lazy since the end of the World Cup should have had this on sooner but where would a football blog be without picking my World Cup XI, nowhere, so to fall into line, and probably the umpteenth list you’ve read here’s my team, just a note I have picked this team as an actual team that I would hope has a balance that would work well together, so not England then.

FORMATION 4-2-3-1

For the English media this is been a revelation for anyone who watches football outside of the British Isles it’s a formation you will be well aware of, very successful throughout the tournament and dominating any team that tried to go 4-4-2 against it, I’m sure you’ll see more and more teams adapt to this system throughout the season.

 

“Too inexperience” “They’ll miss Ballack” “Not as good as past German teams” all these things were said about Low’s side before they had even kicked a ball, that all stopped once they played Australia, Low had picked a side with pace, athleticism, a really good team and work ethic, and on top of that he got his tactics spot on for the knockout stages until they came up against Spain, and even having the bravado to come out after the games and explain how he had beaten England and Argentina, I think this shows the confidence in the man, that’s the attitude I want in a leader of men.

Mentions: Oscar Tabarez (Uru) Bob Bradley (USA) Diego Maradona (Arg)

I found this a hard choice, quite a few keepers impressed in the Group Stage, and a few shown in the knockout stages, You have to pick someone that really turns up when it counts, Iker saved Paraguays penalty and Santa Cruz’s chance in the Quarters, then in the Final with Robben through on goal on his left foot, Casillas had the presence of mind to left his leg and provide the vital touch, keeping the game at 0-0 and of course Spain went on to win the trophy surely a pivotal moment and that’s what you want in a Goalkeeper, Stekenlenberg probably had a better final than Casillas, however when he was most needed he produced the good, Saint Iker indeed.

Mentions: Vincent Enyeama (Nig) Maarten Stekelenber (Ned) Eduardo (Por)

I will confess that Jorge is a player that wasn’t on my radar before the World Cup, with every game that I watched he just grew and grew, great performances against France and South Africa, Solid against Korea, he was unlucky to miss out against Holland in the Semi-Final and they really missed him, having to re think the whole system to nullify Robben, If Fucile had been there It would have been a different game I think, came back into the side against Germany and he didn’t miss a beat, Muller didn’t have an easy game, making him come inside more often, Fucile never looked out of position very often, the Porto full back has a good future ahead of him.

Mentions: Fabio Coentrao (Por) Gio Van Bronckhorst (Ned) Carlos Salcido (Mex)

Many sites and pundits I’ve read or listened to have mentioned Gerald Pique quite a few times, for me the rock in Spain’s defence has been Captain Fantastic himself, showing that he can play with the same passion and intensity as he can for Barcelona, he may not have the pace he once had, however his positioning and awareness is top notch, a few seasons ago questions had been asked of Puyol but under Guardiola he has blossomed again and looks like a defender on top of his game.

Mentions: Joris Mathijsen (Ned) Jonathan Mensah (Gha)

At 31 this was probably his last World Cup, with a disappointing season behind him (relegated with Hertha) he came to the tournament with question marks over his ability, I thought he answered all those critics, up against some young forwards Gyan, Defoe, Messi he never looked worried, dealt with all the youthful exuberance with a calmness and typical German efficiency, a nice way to finish his International career with his first goal for his country, and a derserved place in my team.

Mentions: Diego Godin (Uru) Antolin Alcaraz (Par)

High hopes were had for this Ajax youngster, picked him out in my 32 players to watch piece, and he didn’t let me down, look wise past his years, showing good positioning a willingness to get forward, maybe didn’t reach the byline as often as I would have likes but played well front to back, had a very solid final for such a young player, made some great challenges on Pedro and Iniesta and didn’t seem overawed by the occasion, a target now for some big teams, not surprising to be honest.

Mentions: Phillip Lahm (Ger) Sergio Ramos (Esp) Maicon (Bra)

I must confess I had not seen much of Bayern Munich this year, only the 2nd half of the later stages of the Champions League so I was unaware of how good Bastian had performed in his newly found position for his club, so seeing him play there for his country was new to me, and boy did he impress, always making sure he had time on the ball, the ability to beat a man to find more space, his passing was deliberate, some of the runs were superb exemplified by the run for Friedrich’s goal against Argentina, a joy to watch in the middle of the park, so commanding for what is still a young player.

Mentions: Mark Van Bommel (Ned) Michael Bradley (USA)

The heart of the Spanish engine room, I would call him the Leonardo Da Vinci of the Tiki-Taka masterpiece, so eloquent on the ball, made more passes than any other player in the tournament, I don’t remember a bad one, doesn’t break forward as often as he used to, he does find space better than most players in the world, just a joy to watch.

Mentions: Gilberto Silva (Bra) Raul Meireles (Por)

Big decision to make with this pick, could have easily been Wesley Sneijder but I think everyone got a little carried away with his performances, Mesut however took the World by storm, not a name everyone knew before the tournament his name is on the lips of the world now, great movement, vision, pace to beat a man, a youthful exuberance and naievity which makes him so dangerous.
Mesut has the world at his feet, I hope he can go on to delight us in future World Cups and seeing him develop more this season in the Bundesliga for Bremen (hopefully!)

Mentions: Wesley Sneijder (Hol)

This was a very hard decision, not whether Andres deserved to be in the team, but where to play him, I could have chosen him to play in Xavi’s role, Oezil’s role, which would have given space to Thomas Mueller, I think however, this decision for me brings balance to the side if it was an actual team, like he did for Spain Iniesta starts on the left but he has a license to roam into the midfield and provide support but is very active at breaking forward into the box and down the channels, lovely passer of the ball, finds space with ease, the awareness to know where and when to make runs is incredible, and compliments this with his goalscoring abilty, they say playing with great players makes the game easier, Andres must make it very easy.

Mentions: Robinho (Bra), Carlos Tevez (Arg), Jean Beausejour (Cho)

If the interest in the Spanish forward wasn’t already sky-high his move to Barcelona brought even more attention, after the first game when Spain failed to score and no one on the Spainish team impressed, it was Villa who announced the team to the tournament with his goal against Honduras, collecting the ball from the left, beat 2 men and his shot found the top corner, a quality goal that just summed up Villa’s excellence, he went on to score 5 goals in the tournament and was so important to the Spain team, without him they would not have reached the final.

Mentions: Luis Suarez (Uru), Asamoah Gyan (Gha), Luis Fabiano (Bra)

Voted player of the whole tournament and a very worthy winner, not only an excellent footballer but comes across as a really nice guy also, dangerous on both feet so I have no trouble playing him on the right, has the ability to come in off either flank, find space and if you give him space outside the box he will score goals, specialist from Free Kicks as he showed, the one person in the tournament that tamed the Jabulani ball, Captain and Cheerleader for his Country, a tremendous players, finally getting the Worldwide recognition for all his hard work, 2 Golden boots for his goals in La Liga and now a Golden Ball for his performances in South Africa.

Mentions: Thomas Mueller (Ger) - was so hard to leave him out, Arjen Robben (Ned), Lionel Messi (Arg)

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Two of football’s heavyweights met in the Quarter Finals yesterday, 2 team playing great football, a shame they both couldn’t go through. In the other match it was underdogs vs favourites, Paraguay trying to shock the world by eliminating the Spanish.

ARGENTINA

0

 

GERMANY

4

      Thomas MULLER (3′)  
      Miroslav KLOSE (67′, 89′)  
      Arne FRIEDRICH (74′)  
         
         
22.Sergio ROMERO     1.Manuel NEUER  
2.Martin DEMICHELIS     3.Arne FRIEDRICH  
4.Nicolas BURDISSO     6.Sami KHEDIRA OUT – 77
6.Gabriel HEINZE     7.Bastian SCHWEINSTEIGER  
7.Angel DI MARIA OUT – 75   8.Mesut ÖZIL  
9.Gonzalo HIGUAIN     10.Lucas PODOLSKI  
10.Lionel MESSI     11.Miroslav KLOSE  
11.Carlos TEVEZ     13.Thomas MULLER – Y OUT – 84
14.Javier MASCHERANO – C – Y     16.Philipp LAHM  
15.Nicolas OTAMENDI – Y OUT – 70   17.Per MERTESACKER  
20.Maxi RODRIGUEZ     20.Jerome BOATENG OUT – 72
         
Subs     Subs  
16.Sergio AGUERO IN – 75   2.Marcell JANSEN IN – 72
23.Javier PASTORE IN – 70   15.Piotr TROCHOWSKI IN – 84
      18.Toni KROOS IN – 77

MY THOUGHTS

From start to finish the Germans dominated the match, a great start to the match Thomas Muller flicking in Schweinsteiger’s free kick, the German machine just rolled on, Argentina never looked like causing any problems, 1-0 at half time the germans looked comfortable, and extended the lead in the second half when Podolski got three on the left and he found Klose alone in the box and he wasn’t gonna miss from there.

Arne Friedrich added his first ever goal after Schweinsteiger’s fabulous solo run, and Ozil played a lovely pass over the top of the Argentine’s and found Klose and he levelled Gerd Muller’s 14 World Cup goals, and capped off a wonderful day for Germany. Argentina just weren’t at the races today, Messi and Tevez couldn’t find the space to create anything, and this is were Maradona lacks the tactical knowledge to change the system or adapt to what’s happening and in the end this cost his country a chance at World Cup glory.

Schweinsteiger and Khedira were superb for the whole game, The Bayern man never looked in any trouble on the ball, always finding a pass or when in trouble he has the ability to beat a man to create more space, and Khedira compliments his game so much, knows when to stay knows when to attack, and I’m sticking by my thought that Ballack would just have slowed this team down, Podolski and Muller then back up Klose, with Ozil combining the great play for midfield and attack, Ozil had a slighly quieter game but this gave more space to Schweinsteiger and Podolski and they played a great game.

I thought Jerome Boateng did well, supposidly the weakest link in the german team, however he did well against the threat of Messi and Di Maria, I don’t remember the ball getting inbehind the German defence many times, Mertesacker didn’t get turned like everyone thought they would they managed to keep the Argies in front of them and this condensed the space Messi & Co. had to work with.

Di Maria had has most involved game seeing lots of the ball, he needs to work on his final ball if he is to become a great player, he didn’t get much help from Higuian who’s movement was sparce at best, Otamendi at right back had an awful game, booked very early on he never recovered and if you look at all Germany’s goals they all came from the left side, where Nicolas was meant to be defending, the right back spot a real problem are for Maradona’s men, what difference would someone of Javier Zanetti class have made.

Lionel Messi will leave the tournament without scoring a goal, but at times he showed his World Class and could easily have had 3 or 4, Tevez played well overall, Higuain left a lot to be desired, yeah he got a hat-trick against Korea but never showed the real strengths of his game.

It looks like Diego will retire as Argentina’s coach and maybe it’s a good thing, he is a good cheerleader and gives the team passion and pride, but when i comes to knowing the game he lacks the same skill he had as a player, Argentina need a coach that can get the best of out Messi but also find a way to play the others, it’s not a bad bunch of players to be in charge of.

PARAGUAY

0

 

SPAIN

1

      David VILLA (83′)  
         
         
1.Justo VILLAR     1.Iker CASILLAS  
2.Dario VERON     3.Gerard PIQUE – Y  
3.Claudio MOREL – Y     5.Carles PUYOL OUT – 84
7.Oscar CARDOZO     6.Andres INIESTA  
8.Edgar BARRETO OUT – 64   7.David VILLA  
11.Jonathan SANTANA – Y     8.XAVI  
14.Paulo DA SILVA     9.Fernando TORRES OUT – 56
15.Victor CACERES – Y OUT – 84   11.Joan CAPDEVILA  
16.Cristian RIVEROS     14.Xavi ALONSO OUT – 75
18.Nelson VALDEZ OUT – 72   15.Sergio RAMOS  
21.Antolin ALCARAZ – Y     16.Sergio BUSQUETS – Y  
         
Subs     Subs  
19.Lucas BARRIOS IN – 84   4.Carlos MARCHENA IN – 84
13.Enrique VERA IN – 64   10.Cesc FABERGAS IN – 56
9.Roque SANTA CRUZ IN – 72   18.PEDRO IN – 75

MY THOUGHTS

For 45 minutes this match had nothing to write about, Spain’s passing was awful they couldn’t get their “tiki-taka” going, it was Paraguay that played the nicer football some lovely flowing moves, but just couldn’t find a way past the Spanish defence, it looked like their chances would come mostly from set-pieces.

The second half was so much better and there was a 10 minute period of complete drama, Paraguay had a corner and when the ball was swung in, Gerard Pique was blatantly pulling Cardozo’s arm, the referee spotted it and blew his whitle, Penalty to Paraguay, a chance to go ahead against the European Champions, Benfica’s Oscar Cardozo stepped up to take it, but it was a poor penalty and Iker Casillas made a comfortable save, the temperature rose again when Spain went on the attack and Villa was bundles off the ball by Alcaraz and again the referee had no choice to point to the spot, Xabi Alonso picked up the ball, placed it, took his penalty and put it into the top corner, the referee had spotted some encroachment and ordered the retake, always hard for the player to then either go the same way or do you change your mind, Alonso changed his mind, Villar read it though and got his hand to the ball, it looked like he fouled Fabergas on the rebound, and then Ramos fired the rebound towards goal and it was cleared off the line.

Spain pilled on the pressure and with 7 minutes to go it paid off, Iniesta made a great run towards the box, he slipped in Pedro, his shot came off the post and fell to David Villa and Spain’s top scorer had a chance, his shot came off the same post as Pedro’s went back across the goal and hit the opposite post but this time it bounced into the net and Spain had the lead, and except Santa Cruz’s chance in injury time Spain played out the last minutes knowing they had won.

For the first time in this tournament Pique looked nervous, the tug on Cardozo’s arm was unlike the big man, usually so calm under pressure, Paraguay played well as a team but struggled up front, Cardozo and Valdez no goals between them, Valdez worked very very hard chasing down lost causes and caused problems with his movement but they lacked that cutting edge in the final third, new Premier League boys Alcaraz and Riveros played pretty well and have impressed throughout the tournament looking forward to seeing more of them this season.

Torres again had a poor game, not sure how long Del Bosque can continue to pick the Liverpool man, Llorente did so well when he came on against Portugal he is knocking at the door for a starting spot, other options would be  Cesc Fabergas or Jesus Navas and play Villa down the middle, I would try Llorente as Villa has been findng more space from the left and it seems teams are struggling to pick him up from deeper, however it seems Del Bosque will be sticking with Torres hoping that every game makes him sharper, could be a big decision.

 

SEMI FINAL – GERMANY v SPAIN

Germany will be without striker Thomas Muller who is suspended, looks like Trochowski will replace him, I think there is the option of usin Cacau, Marin and Toni Kross instead that would give more attacking impetus, however Trochowski has been more often or not the first sub, so no surprise if he’s picked, apart from that both teams will have minumum changes.

Some really good matchups Lahm will be wary of Villa from the left wing position, probably the best defender Villa has come up against so far, Busquets will be given the job to mark Ozil, it will be interesting how Sergio Ramos defends against Podolski, Poldi’s presence could pin Ramos back, if he ventures forward there will be space to expolit, also a great test for Schweinsteiger and Khedira against the greatest midfield duo in football Xavi and Iniesta the winner of this battle could determin the team that gets to the final.

Spain will have to play a lot better if they are to beat the Germans, I’m sure Jogi Low will have a game plan to test Spain, really looking forward to this one, if I had to pick a winner, i would have to say Germany by a goal.

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The final two Last 16 games were played today and it was inevitable that at least one of them would go to penalties, after todays games we would know the lineup for the 4 Quarter Final matches, and potentially 4 South American teams in the Last 8.

PARAGUAY

0

 

JAPAN

0

         

PENALTIES

5

   

3

         
E.BARRETO GOAL   ENDO GOAL
BARRIOS GOAL   HASEBE GOAL
RIVEROS GOAL   KOMANO MISS
VALDEZ GOAL   HONDA GOAL
CARDOZO GOAL      
         
1.Justo VILLAR     1.Eiji KAWASHIMA  
3.Claudio MOREL     2.Yuki ABE OUT – 81
6.Carlos BONET     3.Yuichi KOMANO  
9.Roque SANTA CRUZ OUT – 94   4.Marcus Tulio TANAKA  
10.Edgar BENITEZ OUT – 60   5.Yuto NAGATOMO – Y  
13.Enrique VERA     7.Yasuhito ENDO – Y  
14.Paulo DA SILVA     8.Daisuke MATSUI – Y OUT – 65
16.Cristian RIVEROS – Y     16.Yoshito OKUBO OUT – 106
19.Lucas BARRIOS     17.Makoto HASEBE ©  
20.Nestor ORTIGOZA OUT – 75   18.Keisuke HONDA – Y  
21.Antolin ALCARAZ     22.Yuji NAKAZAWA  
         
Subs     Subs  
7.Oscar CARDOZO IN – 94   9.Shinji OKAZAKI IN – 65
8.Edgar BARRETO IN – 75   11.Keiji TAMADA IN – 106
18.Nelson VALDEZ IN – 60   14.Kengo NAKAMURA IN – 81

MY THOUGHTS

One of the worst games of the tournament, and I’m not surprised both teams with so much to play for, either team with a win would move to the Quarter Finals for the first time in their history.

Not lots to talk about in the 120 minutes, in the first half Barrios made an excellent turn in Japan’s box but took it with his right foot instead of his left and it was a weak shot, then the other moment to mention was the impressive Matsui had a long curling effort crash off the crossbar.

Sunderland bound Cristian Riveros looks a good player, neat and tidy on the ball, not outstanding skill but a good footballer.

From the start of the second half it did look a forgone conclusion that this match was going to penalties, and after 120 minutes penalties it was.

Paraguay dispatched their penalties with accuracy and Kawashima maybe should have done better with Barrios’s attempt, but there always has to be a fall guy and this time it was Komano of Japan that will have nightmares tonight, crashing his attempt off the crossbar.

Okada’s men bowed their heads and will leave the tournament, I think if they had shown the same attacking spirit they showed against Denmark they could have been in the Quarters, they didn’t and it is Gerardo Martino’s men that will face Spain in the Quarter Finals, they will need to play 200 times better to have any chance.

SPAIN

1

 

PORTUGAL

0

David VILLA (63′)        
         
1.Iker CASILLAS     1.EDUARDO  
3.Gerard PIQUE     2.Bruno ALVES  
5.Carles PUYOL     6.Ricardo CARVALHO  
6.Andres INIESTA     7.Cristiano RONALDO  
7.David VILLA OUT – 88   11.SIMAO OUT – 72
8.XAVI     15.PEPE OUT – 72
9.Fernando TORRES OUT – 58   16.Raul MEIRELES  
11.Joan CAPDEVILA     18.HUGO ALMEIDA OUT – 58
14.Xavi ALONSO – Y OUT – 93   19.TIAGO – Y  
15.Sergio RAMOS     21.Ricardo COSTA – R  
16.Sergio BUSQUETS     23.Fabio COENTRAO  
         
Subs     Subs  
4.Carlos MARCHENA IN – 93   8.Pedro MENDES IN – 72
18.PEDRO IN – 88   9.LIEDSON IN – 72
19.Fernando LLORENTE IN – 58   10.DANNY IN – 58

MY THOUGHTS

A decent game not the end to end battle everyone was hoping for, but both teams at times showed signs of great football it was Spain in the end that had the most quality and advance to the Last 8, the first half I thought Portugal had some of the better of the play and looked most likely to score, the second half however was all Spain, controlled the play, Portugal were chasing shadows going after the ball and never troubled Spanish defence.

Fabio Coentrao again was very impressive I would be very surprised if he is still playing for Benfica at the start of the season, I hope for their sake he will be as his stock is only going to rise, showed that he can defend, then always looking to burst forward, still has a lot to learn but is is still young.

Ronaldo did very little to note of, can’t remember any points to bring up, he seemed to disapeer the more the game went on, he looked a very frustrated figure, and this has been confirmed with his post match interviews.

Spain played relatively well, I’m going to put my neck out now and say I am starting to dislike Spain’s tiki-taka football, I just reminds me of Arsenal on those days when they frustrate the hell out of you.

It’s all too pedestraian for me, no penetration, unlike Brazil, Germany and Argentina, all Spain’s play is outside the box, condensed in the middle, for me they need to get wide and spread the defence, very frustrating to watch, I prefer to see teams with a purpose and Spain for me just don’t do that.

Torres still isn’t looking himself, I am not sure why Del Bosque continues to pick him, Llorente came on and did more in 30 minutes than Torres has done in 4 matches.

Spain are a really good team, I don’t see them as favourites though, I would actually love Paraguay to cause a shock.

QUARTER FINAL – SPAIN v PARAGUAY

Spain will be heavy favourites and Paraguay haven’t scared anyone with their brand of football, I would expect Spain to win this, however Paraguay have the defenders to frustrate the Spanish and have some quality upfront to maybe cause 1 or 2 problems.

I’m hoping for a great game, and a little part of me wants a shock.

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10 goals, 3 games, 1 red card, 1 missed penalty, 1 record broken, and a first goal since February 11th 2009, a great day of football.

PORTUGAL

7

 

KOREA DPR

0

RAUL MEIRELES (29′)        
SIMAO (53′)        
HUGO ALMEIDA (56′)        
TIAGO (60′, 89′)        
LIEDSON (81′)        
Cristiano RONALDO (87′)        
         
1.EDUARDO     1.RI Myong Guk  
2.Bruno ALVES     2.CHA Jong Hyok OUT- 75
6.Ricardo CARVALHO     3.RI Jun Il  
7.Cristiano RONALDO     4.PAK Nam Chol OUT – 58
8.Pedro MENDES – Y     5.RI Kwang Chon  
11.SIMAO OUT – 74   8.JI Yun Nam  
13.MIGUEL     9.JONG Tae Se  
16.Raul MEIRELES OUT – 70   10.HONG Yong Jo – Y  
18.HUGO ALMEIDA – Y OUT – 77   11.MUN In Guk OUT – 58
19.TIAGO     13.PAK Chol Jin – Y  
23.Fabio COENTRAO     17.AN Yong Hak  
         
Subs     Subs  
5.DUDA IN – 74   16.KIM Kum Il IN – 58
9.LIEDSON IN – 77   15.KIM Yong Jun IN – 58
14.Miguel VELOSO IN – 70   16.NAM Song Chol IN – 75

MY THOUGHTS:

I feel quite sorry for the Koreans, they started brightly showing more attacking purpose than against Brazil but come away with nothing to show for it, and their defence collapsed and Portugal kicked off their World Cup with 7 goals, for 20 minutes I thought we could have a shock on the books, but it wasn’t to be, again Jong Tae-Se ran the line on his own, and Korea lined up with what was either a back 4 with a very deep defensive mid, or a flat back 5, but when they got the ball they looked to break with purpose, Portugal seemed to be struggling to penetrate the Korean defences, until Raul Meireles made a great run inbehind and he was found by Tiago and the finish was very neat. Meireles was insprirational all match running from deep, passing the ball really well, along with Tiago they bossed the midfield and was the bass for Portugal’s attacking play, another of the very impressive players was Fabio Coentrao, I picked him out in the last match but he improved again, not being caught out defensively and charging forward and playing in many great crosses one of them setting up Hugo Almeida’s goal as he headed in Fabio’s great cross.

Simao and Tiago’s double added to the scoreline, but it was Ronaldo’s goal that will please the management and fans, his first goal since February 09 and there was a slice of luck to it, after trying to go round the keeper the ball bounced up and landed on his back, he composed himself to place the ball into the empty net, the 7-0 victory pretty much qualifys Portugal, Ivory Coast will have to turn around a 9 goal deficite to qualify, the game against Brazil will decide if it’s in 1st or 2nd.

CHILE

1

 

SWITZERLAND

0

Mark GONZALEZ (75′)        
         
1.Claudio BRAVO     1.Diego BENAGLIO  
3.Waldo PONCE – Y     2.Stephane LICHSTEINER  
4.Mauricio ISLA     5.Steve VON BERGEN  
6.Carlos CARMONA – Y     6.Benjamin HUGGEL  
7.Alexis SANCHEZ     8.Gokhan INLER – Y  
8.Arturo VIDAL OUT – 46   9.Alexander FREI OUT – 42
9.Humberto SUAZO – Y OUT – 46   10.Blaise N’KUFO – Y OUT – 68
14.Matias FERNANDEZ – Y OUT – 65   11.Valon BEHRAMI – R  
15.Jean BEAUSEJOUR     13.Stephane GRICHTING  
17.Gary MEDEL – Y     16.Gelson FERNANDES OUT- 77
18.Gonzalo JARA     17.Reto ZIEGLER  
         
Subs     Subs  
10.Jorge VALDIVIA – Y IN – 46   7.Tranquillo BARNETTA – Y IN – 42
11.Mark GONZALEZ IN – 46   18.Albert BUNJAKU IN – 77
22.Esteban PAREDES IN – 65   19.Eren DERDIYOK IN – 68

MY THOUGHTS:

Before the start of the world cup would anyone have thought the second group game between Chile and Switzerland would have seen both teams top of the group, the Swiss again stuck to their defensive style tactics, not great for the spectator but great for frustrating attacking teams like Spain and Chile and the possibilties of the Swiss attacking was all but ruled out when Valron Behrami was sent off for throwing an elbow at 2 Chile players, the first was a bit tame, but it looks like he really connected with the second and my instincts were it was a red, maybe a little soft from the replays, but you can’t lift your hands, this put the Swiss in a 4-4-1 formation, parking the bus so to speak and hoping to frustrate the Chile attack.

The first half remained goalless and this saw Switzerland 22 minutes from breaking a World Cup record the most time ever without conceding a goal, 4 clean sheets in 2006 and 1 against Spain in 2010, unsurprisingly the reached that mark and now hold the record not exactly as impressive when you learn they only scored 1 goal in these 6 matches, not the most fan friendly football, luckly they only lasted another 8 minutes, substitute Esteban Paredes got to the byline, crossed to the back post and Mark Gonzalez was there to head into the net, a well deserved goal and it was the start of the Chile bombardment, Alexis Sanchez was very impressive again and had a couple of half chance and also a goal disallowed  unfairly for offside, his goal is coming you can bank on that, and should find more space against the Spanish, Valdivia was also a stand out player once he came on, showing neat little touches and skill and helped to open that stubborn Swiss defence.

For all Chile’s attacking play and the Swiss being a man down, they’re chance came in injury time, Erin Dedriyok found himself unmarked 12 yards out, it seemed harder to miss, but miss he did, the goal would have been against the run of play and it shows why you have to finish off teams when you are so dominant.

It will be interesting to see how Switzerland play against Honduras knowing they will be the better team and need to attack instead of defending, Dedriyok will have a chance to redeem himself and maybe Alexander Frei’s bad luck will end, Lichtsteiner and Ziegler were very impressive in the full back position and will have a great chance to get forward, Switzerland have the players to trouble teams when they go for it, I can’t see them slipping up, will all go down to goal difference.

SPAIN

2

 

HONDURAS

0

David VILLA (17′, 51′)        
         
1.Iker CASILLAS     18.Noel VALLADARES  
3.Gerard PIQUE     2.Osman CHAVAZ  
5.Carles PUYOL     3.Maynor FIGUEROA  
7.David VILLA     8.Wilson PALACIOS   
8.XAVI OUT- 66   11.David SUAZO OUT – 84
9.Fernando TORRES OUT – 70   13.Roger ESPINOZA OUT – 46
11.Joan CAPDEVILA     15.Walter MARTINEZ  
14.Xavi ALONSO     19.Danilo TURCIOS – Y OUT – 63
15.Sergio RAMOS OUT – 77   20.Amado GUEVARA  
16.Sergio BUSQUETS     21.Emilio IZAQUIRRE – Y  
22.Jesus NAVAS     23.Sergio MENDOZA  
         
Subs     Subs  
10.Cesc FABERGAS IN – 66   7.Ramon NUNEZ IN – 63
12.Victor VALDES IN – 70   10.Jerry PALACIOS IN – 84
13.Juan MATA IN – 77   12.Georgie WELCOME IN – 46

MY THOUGHTS:

It was a time for redemption, Spain failed to live up to their own high expectations in the first match, and have been criticised heavily for it, they came out all guns blazing looking at Sergio Ramos heat map on FIFA.com shows he was very rarely near his own box, constantly attacking down the right, combining with Jesus Navas, these two cause no end of problems, and with David Villa cutting in from the left it spelt bad news for the Hondurans, realistically it could have been 4 or 5, Villa’s goal was a superb solo run and needs to be seen, the second came just after half time and had a slight deflection, however Torres, Xavi and Villa again himself had many chances to score, not forgetting Villa’s missed penalty, a great Spanish performance but they need to finish better.

My hat goes off to Honduras, they didn’t just sit and defend they tried to attack, long searching balls for David Suazo he never really got a chance to go at Puyol and Pique, Chavez in defence looked good, a few goal saving tackles, and could do better in a good club side, also Nunez that came on was very bright, tried to get involved showed some nice touches, would like to see more of him, the Honduarans should hold their heads up high they have not been disgraced and for 45 mins when it was 1-0 one Spanish slip could have brought them back into it, they should be proud of themselves and go out against the Swiss and try and get something.

We could get the scenario that 3 teams have 6 points and it would go down to goal difference, if the Swiss can score some goals they could knock out Chile or Spain, not an advert for attacking football but an advert for organisation and discipline.

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