Some good game and some bad games, the most important things is for me the best 4 teams from the 2 groups went through and have set up to tasty matches, bring on the Last 16.

PORTUGAL

0

 

BRAZIL

0

         
1.EDUARDO     1.Julio CESAR  
2.Bruno ALVES     2.MAICON  
5.DUDA – Y OUT – 54   3.LUCIO – C  
6.Ricardo CARVALHO     4.JUAN – Y  
7.Cristiano RONALDO     5.Felipe MELO – Y OUT – 44
10.DANNY     6.Michel BASTOS  
15.PEPE – Y OUT – 64   8.Gilberto SILVA  
16.Raul MEIRELES OUT – 84   9.Luis FABIANO – Y OUT – 85
19.TIAGO – Y     13.Dani ALVES  
21.Ricardo COSTA     19.Julio BAPTISTA OUT – 82
23.Fabio COENTRAO – Y     21.NILMAR  
         
Subs     Subs  
8.Pedro MENDES IN – 64   17.JOSUE IN – 44
11.SIMAO IN – 54   18.RAMIRES IN – 82
14.Miguel VELOSO IN – 84   23.GRAFITE IN – 85

MY THOUGHTS

Not going to spend long on this game as it was truly awful, only 2 half chances I can think of from Ronaldo and Fabiano, the memory I do have is the referee handing out Yellow card after yellow card, a very scrappy game, one of the truly bad games at this World Cup, the fact that both teams had all but qualified really showed in the performances, Nilmar and Baptista did nothing to push for a starting place, as did Danny for Portugal, Fabio Coentrao played well again, one of the surprising stars so far, really want to see more of him for club and country.

Only high note I can leave this on is that both teams will play again and they won’t play worse, and I expect much much more, or they won’t last long.

KOREA DPR

0

 

COTE D’IVOIRE

3

      Yaya TOURE (14′)  
      ROMARIC (20′)  
      Salomon KALOU (82′)  
         
1.RI Myong Guk     1.Boubacar BARRY  
2.CHA Jong Hyok     3.Artur BOKA  
3.RI Jun Il     4.Kolo TOURE  
4.PAK Nam Chol     5.Didier ZOKORA  
5.RI Kwang Chon     9.Cheik TIOTE  
8.JI Yun Nam     10.GERVINHO OUT – 64
9.JONG Tae Se     11.Didier DROGBA – C  
10.HONG Yong Jo     13.ROMARIC OUT – 79
11.MUN In Guk OUT – 67   18.Kader KEITA OUT – 64
13.PAK Chol Jin     19.Yaha TOURE  
17.AN Yong Hak     21.Emmanuel EBOUE  
         
Subs     Subs  
16.KIM Kum Il IN – 67   15.Aruna DINDANE IN – 64
      7.Seydou DOUMBIA IN – 79
      8.Salomon KALOU IN – 64

MY THOUGHTS

Despite all the connetations of what the Cote D’Ivoire could do to qualify in my eyes it was always a nothing game, CIV were never going to score 8 and Portugal were never going to ship lots of goals, it was nice though for Drogba and his men to get a well deserved victory in this tournament, the only down side for me was the appearance of Kader Keita, he who feigned injury causing Kaka’ to get sent off, a disgraceful bit of simulation, I would have expected FIFA to ban keita for at least the next match, after some internet searching it seems that FIFA have said nothing about the incident, so a note to all players at the World Cup It seems trying to get someone sent off in a match is encourage in this tournament so keep up the good work, god FIFA boil my blood at times.

Anyway back to the football, I thought Yaya Toure took his goal really well placing the shot rather than trying to smash it, was a nice finish, for the Romaric goal the way Drogba took the ball down was superb, a deft touch and a wonderful shot so unlucky it didn’t go in Romaric was there to head the ball in so Drogba’s effort was not wasted, from the highlights I saw Gervinho looked very dangerous again and I look forward to him having another great season for Lille, on a different day he could have had 2 or 3 goals.

Artur Boka’s performance today sort of brings Sven’s lineup choices up again, Boka played in 3 great balls that set up the 3 goals, Tiene set up no goals in the 2 games he played, Gervinho should not have been dropped after the Portugal game and maybe these choice cost Ivory Coast a place in the last 16, this group shows apart from drawing a tough, the fixtures can play a part also, I wonder if Ivory Coast’s last  game had been against Brazil or Portugal if the standing would have looked any different, a lot harder to play Brazil when they need to win the game as Eriksson’s man found out in Jo’burg.

Korea DPR lie bottom of the group, I feel sorry for them, not disgraced in the first game and things looked good for them, positives will be #9 Jong Tae-Se #10 Hong and the #8 Ji all played well in the 3 games, shame Jong couldn’t get his World Cup goal, maybe next time.

SWITZERLAND

0

 

HONDURAS

0

         
1.Diego BENAGLIO     18.Noel VALLADARES  
2.Stephane LICHSTEINER     2.Osman CHAVAZ – Y  
5.Steve VON BERGEN     3.Maynor FIGUEROA  
6.Benjamin HUGGEL OUT – 78   5.Victor BERNARDEZ  
7.Tranquillo BARNETTA     6.Hendry THOMAS – Y  
8.Gokhan INLER     7.Ramon NUNEZ OUT – 67
10.Blaise N’KUFO OUT – 69   8.Wilson PALACIOS – Y  
13.Stephane GRICHTING     10.Jerry PALACIOS OUT – 78
16.Gelson FERNANDES – Y OUT – 46   11.David SUAZO – Y OUT – 87
17.Reto ZIEGLER     16.Mauricio SABILLON  
19.Eren DERDIYOK     17.Edgar ALVAREZ  
         
Subs     Subs  
15.Hakin YAKIN IN – 46   12.Georgie WELCOME IN – 78
23.Xherdan SHAQIRI IN – 78   15.Walter MARTINEZ IN – 67
9.Alexander FREI IN – 69   19.Danilo TURCIOS IN – 87

 

MY THOUGHTS

Only able to watch the 3 minute highlights from the BBC Website, and I think that’ll be enough, doesn’t sound the best game, and it ended a boring nil nil which I am happy with as both Spain and Chile can advance, I hate teams that come to a World Cup to defend, then you defend so much you forget to attack and fail to score against Honduras (no offence) you don’t then deserve to go through at the expense of 2 great attacking teams.

Had to mention David Suazo’s miss, a great cross from Alvarez after he left Gritchting for dead, but the former Inter man could only flick his header wide, need to also mention Benaglio’s save, Alvarez through on goal surely thought he had scored but Diego Benaglio pulled out a tremendous one handed save, possibly the save of the tournament, you need to see it.

Both teams will now go home, and probably deserve to, Honduras showed more attacking ideas than Switzerland, they need to show more going forward in future tournaments, hopefully Honduras will come back stronger with the experience.

CHILE

1

 

SPAIN

2

Rodrigo MILLAR (47′)     David VILLA (24′)  
      Andres INIESTA (37′)  
         
1.Claudio BRAVO     1.Iker CASILLAS  
3.Waldo PONCE – Y     3.Gerard PIQUE  
4.Mauricio ISLA     5.Carles PUYOL  
7.Alexis SANCHEZ OUT – 65   6.Andres INIESTA  
8.Arturo VIDAL     7.David VILLA  
10.Jorge VALDIVIA OUT – 46   8.XAVI  
11.Mark GONZALEZ OUT – 46   9.Fernando TORRES OUT – 55
13.Marco ESTRADA – Y/R     11.Joan CAPDEVILA  
15.Jean BEAUSEJOUR     14.Xavi ALONSO OUT – 73
17.Gary MEDEL – Y     15.Sergio RAMOS  
18.Gonzalo JARA     16.Sergio BUSQUETS  
         
Subs     Subs  
16.Fabian ORELLANA IN – 65   10.Cesc FABERGAS IN – 55
20.Rodrigo MILLAR IN – 46   20.Javi MARTINEZ IN – 73
22.Esteban PAREDES IN – 46      

MY THOUGHTS

Very enjoyable game, Chile started like a house on fire really taking it to Spain in the first 20 minutes, but then found themselves 1 down, after a crazy moment from keeper Bravo the ball fell to David Villa 35 yards out and he curled it beautifully with his left foot swerving into the empty net, Chile then lost their temper and racked up the yellow cards, including 2 for Manual Estrada, the second of which was not deserved Torres ran across him, Estrada was not even looking at Torres, and the Liverpool man fell over Estrada’s feet went down like a tonne of bricks and the Chile midfielder was given his second yellow and his marching orders, a disgraceful decision and could have cost Chile their place, as while Torres was on the groud Villa had set up Iniesta for Spain’s second.

Marco Bielsa had some work to do at half time, calming down his players was the priortity surely, and it looks like it paid off, substitute Rodrigo Millar hit a shot deflected off Pique and over Casillas into the net.

Bielsa’s men had calmed down however it sort of took the edge off the game and it petered out into a nothing last 15 minutes when nothing of note happened, luckily Switzerland could have still been playing and still not scored and both teams went through.

Alexis Sanchez again was lively again the player that was unexpectedly impressed me is the big #15 Beausejour “The Frenchman” they call him has pace and power, a very strong runner, has the ability to deliver a quality cross and he showed against Honduras he has an eye for goal, the 26 year old plays for America in Mexico and has scored 3 goals in 45 games, I’m surprised at the lack of goal, I will be keeping an eye on Jean.

Again Torres didn’t look himself tonight I wonder if Del Bosque will percivere with Fernando or maybe go for Jesus Navas or Pedro and move Villa to the middle for the Portugal surely he can’t start a 70% Torres again.

Portugal will take on Spain and Chile will play Brazil 2 potentially fantastic games, make the mouth wet with anticipation.

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Well 3 good games today, Dark horses Paraguay strengthened their position, Underdogs New Zealand achieved one of the greatest moments in World Cup history, and Brazil tamed Les Elephants and sent out a message, but the day will be overshadowed but the cheat that is Kader Keita, used to like him as a player at Lille, but moments like that need to be stamped out of football, if FIFA do not do the right thing and ban Keita and let Kaka play the organisation as usual will look like a joke, now back to the games.

SLOVAKIA

0

 

PARAGUAY

2

      Enrique VERA (27′)  
      Cristian RIVEROS (86′)  
         
1.Jan MUCHA     1.Justo VILLAR  
2.Peter PEKARIK     3.Claudio MOREL  
3.Martin SKRTEL     6.Carlos BONET  
6.Zdenko STRBA     9.Roque SANTA CRUZ  
7.Vladimir WEISS – Y     13.Enrique VERA – Y OUT – 88
8.Jan KOZAK     14.Paulo DA SILVA  
9.Stanislav SESTAK – Y OUT – 70   15.Victor CACERES  
11.Robert VITTEK     16.Cristian RIVEROS  
16.Jan DURICA – Y     18.Nelson VALDEZ OUT – 68
17.Marek HAMSIK – C     19.Lucas BARRIOS OUT – 82
21.Kornel SALATA OUT – 83   21.Antolin ALCARAZ  
         
Subs     Subs  
13.Filip HOLOSKO IN – 70   17.Aureliano TORRES IN – 68
15.Miroslav STOCH IN – 83   7.Oscar CARDOZO IN – 82
      8.Edgar BARRETO IN – 88

MY THOUGHTS:

Not a bad game to kick off the day, Paraguay looked to get forward at all times, some nice play, loved the fullbacks bombing forward all game, Morel and Bonet worked very hard, never caught out of position and happy to join the attacks, the front three of Santa Cruz, Barrios and Valdez played well, Valdez worked extremely hard never giving the Slovakia defence any time on the ball, Barrios played the target man well, holding up the ball, setting up Vera for the first goal, Santa Cruz looked leggy at times for me, not fit surely, but looked at times to be getting it back, maybe he’ll be up to speed come the knockout stage, Alcaraz in defence was a rock in the back four, nothing got past him, good in the air and on the ground, it looks as if Wigan have found a gem, his partner da Silva although caught out in the air at times, nothing got passed him on the ground and it looks a comfortable duo, the midfield trio of Vera, Caceres and Riveros without having too much flair and creativity showed they work hard and will get forward if they see a gap, proved with Vera’s goal a lovely outside of the boot finish and Riveros shot from the edge of the box had power and accuracy.

Slovakia disappointed again, needing to win to have a chance they showed nothing of an attacking threat Hamsik had been pushed further forward but again he was ineffectual, this cut the supply to Sestak and Vittek, Weiss on the right shows he has pace and skill but doesn’t seem to know how to trouble the opposition, I have to say I was disappointed in Weiss Snr’s tactics in not attacking and then it got to a stage where they had no fight left, and only really troubled Paraguay for 5-10 minutes.

Paraguay have basically qualified for the last 16, and they look as if they still have extra gears to step into, Barrios has more to offer still, Cardozo for me should play instead of Santa Cruz as he is really dangerous, I wouldn’t want to play La Albirroja, Slovakia have a massive mountain to climb to reach the last 16 they need to beat Italy to have a chance, although Italy have not been fantastic they have not been beaten, I don’t fancy the Slovak’s chances.

ITALY

1

 

NEW ZEALAND

1

Vincenzo IAQUINTA (29′ PEN)     Shane SMELTZ (7′)  
         
12.Federico MARCHETTI     1.Mark PASTON  
3.Domenico CRISCITO     3.Tony LOCHHEAD  
4.Giorgio CHIELLINI     4.Winston REID  
5.Fabio CANNAVARO     5.Ivan VICELICH OUT – 81
6.Daniele DE ROSSI     6.Ryan NELSEN  
7.Simone PEPE OUT – 46   7.Simon ELLIOT  
9.Vincenzo IAQUINTA     9.Shane SMELTZ  
11.Alberto GILARDINO OUT – 46   10.Chris KILLEN OUT – 93
15.Claudio MARCHISIO OUT – 61   11.Leo BERTOS  
19.Gianluca ZAMBROTTA     14.Rory FALLON OUT – 63
22.Riccardo MONTOLIVO     19.Tommy SMITH  
         
Subs     Subs  
10.Antonio DI NATALE IN – 46   13.Andy BARRON IN – 93
16.Mauro CAMORANESI IN – 46   20.Chris WOOD IN – 63
20.Giampaolo PAZZINI IN – 61   21.Jeremy CHRISTIE IN – 81

MY THOUGHTS:

What a game, what a result for the All Whites, a great defensive performance for the boys from New Zealand, Ryan Nelsen, Winston Reid and Tommy Smith were heroes this evening the Italians bombarded the All Whites goal but they held strong and with goalkeeper Mark Paston behind them they had a great evening, Bertos ran himself into the ground on the right hand side, Simon Elliott has the conductor in the middle and the brains of the operation. Fallon and Smeltz had a torrid time upfront wrestling with Chellini and Cannavaro a very physical confrontation and they gave as good as the got.

As soon as Italy went behind they picked up the pace and hounded the New Zealand, and probably deserved the equaliser, De Rossi’s shirt being tugged by Tommy Smith in the box and the referee pointed to the spot and Iaquinta made no mistake, however after this, I got a feeling from the Italians that they already thought they were winning, they took their foot off the pedal, Lippi brought on Di Natale and Camoranesi at half time, but they couldn’t find the opening, and apart from long distance shots they never got in behind the All Whites back-line, Gilardino had a shocking game and was hauled off at HT, Iaquinta was decent but couldn’t find an opening, I was surprised Camoranesi didn’t start and again he looked busy when he came on, Marchisio for the second game in a row did nothing, just doesn’t look good enough for me.

New Zealand will play Paraguay in the last game knowing a victory will put them through and in dream land, Paraguay probably the most impressive team in the group will be hard to break down, but no one’s writing off the All Whites, Italy need to beat Slovakia to secure progression and Slovakia will have to play 200 times better to trouble the Italians, and I would expect Lippi’s man to go through.

BRAZIL

3

 

IVORY COAST

1

LUIS FABIANO (25′, 50′)     Didier DROGBA (79′)  
ELANO (62′)        
         
1.Julio CESAR     1.Boubacar BARRY  
2.MAICON     4.Kolo TOURE  
3.LUCIO – C     5.Didier ZOKORA  
4.JUAN     8.Salomon KALOU OUT – 68
5.Felipe MELO     9.Cheik TIOTE – Y  
6.Michel BASTOS     11.Didier DROGBA  
7.ELANO OUT – 67   15.Aruna DINDANE OUT – 54
8.Gilberto SILVA     17.Saika TIENE – Y  
9.Luis FABIANO     19.Yaha TOURE  
10.KAKA – Y/R     20.Guy DEMEL  
11.ROBINHO OUT – 93   21.Emmanuel EBOUE OUT – 72
         
Subs     Subs  
13.Dani ALVES IN – 67   10.GERVINHO IN – 54
18.RAMIRES IN – 93   18.Kader KEITA IN – 68
      13.ROMARIC IN – 72

MY THOUGHTS:

Apart from Luis Fabiano’s goal the first half I thought was awful, Ivory Coast showing nothing of an attacking threat Drogba becoming frustrated, even BBC’s highlights showed 2 clips from the first half. Now he second half had so many talking points, I will not be mentioning the cheat though. Brazil seemed to settle down passing the ball around with control and poise, Luis Fabiano’s second goal although it was hand ball it was a great moment flicked over 2 defenders and fired past Barry, some of the passing moves were breathtaking, and they are warming up nicely.

Robinho was quieter tonight than against Korea, Kaka in the second half got some of his sharpness back, setting up Elano for the third, the defensive duo of Gilberto Silva and Felipe Melo were so good, bossing the midfield like experts never looking stretched allowing the free flowing football to open up the Cote D’Ivoire, Luis Fabiano played a good game, playing as the big target man that he didn’t do in the first game and deserved his 2 goals, Maicon has been Brazil’s best player so far, charging down the right, his desire to run at every moment helps Brazil open up the defence.

Brazil have now qualified for the Last 16 and they have lots more to show, another 2 gears perhaps, and I would want to avoid them, problems for Dunga, Elano went off injured, not sure how bad the injury was and if Kaka’s red doesn’t get rescinded, that’s 2 of his midfield gone, this is the kind of Plan B the fans wanted Ronaldinho in the squad for.

Les Elephants were poor this evening, Eriksson brought Drogba in and left off the best player from the first game Gervinho, and they never got going until the 2nd half when Gervinho came on, his willingness to attack defenders at pace cause some problems for the Brazilians and it was his breakaway run then led to Drogba’s goal he laid the ball back the cross came in and Drogba’s run was timed to perfection and he headed what could be an important goal for the Ivory Coast.

Not many more performances to talk about, Drogba was frustrated, Tiene was not as effective on the left, Kalou and Dindane didn’t add anything, Like Capello Sven Goran Eriksson’s substitutions left a lot to be desired, mostly like for like, never at anytime did they show a belief that they could win it and they will need to buck up their ideas when they take on the hardworking Koreans in the last group game.

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Group G was the focus today Ivory Coast v Portugal and Brazil v North Korea and the day was started with New Zealand v Slovakia, a few of the worlds best players on view today with mixed results and there was one team that stole the show but went away empty handed.

NEW ZEALAND

1

 

SLOVAKIA

1

         
Winston REID (90′ + 3)     Robert VITTEK (50′)  
         
         
1.Mark PASTON     1.Jan MUCHA  
3.Tony LOCHHEAD - Y     3.Martin SKRTEL  
4.Winston REID – Y     4.Marek CECH  
5.Ivan VICELICH OUT – 78   5.Radoslav ZABAVNIK  
6.Ryan NELSEN     6.Zdenko STRBA - Y  
7.Simon ELLIOT     7.Vladimir WEISS OUT – 91
9.Shane SMELTZ     9.Stanislav SESTAK OUT – 81
10.Chris KILLEN OUT – 72   11.Robert VITTEK OUT – 84
11.Leo BERTOS     16.Jan DURICA  
14.Rory FALLON     17.Marek HAMSIK – C  
19.Tommy SMITH     18.Erik JENDRISEK  
         
Subs     Subs  
23.James BANNATYNE     12.Dusan PERNIS  
12.Glen MOSS – INJ     23.Dusan KUCIAK  
2.Ben SIGMUND     2.Peter PEKARIK  
8.Tim BROWN     8.Jan KOZAK  
13.Andy BARRON     10.Marek SAPARA  
15.Michael McGLINCHEY     13.Filip HOLOSKO IN – 81
16.Aaron CLAPHAM     14.Martin JAKUBKO  
17.Dave MULLIGAN     15.Miroslav STOCH IN – 84
18.Andy BOYENS     19.Juraj KUCKA IN – 91
20.Chris WOOD IN – 72   20.Kamil KOPUNEK  
21.Jeremy CHRISTIE IN – 78   21.Kornel SALATA  
22.Jeremy BROCKIE     22.Martin PETRAS  

MY THOUGHTS:

Not a bad game for me, both teams tried to control the game at time, New Zealand started well, Simon Elliot the chief playmaker in midfield, Lochhead made some moves down the left, the front 3 of Smeltz, Killen and Fallon were too quiet, Killen had one chance the whole game, but Slovakia’s defence kept them smoothered for most of the game, the team as a whole worked really hard for each other, giving 100% effort and then some, the 3 centre backs, Vieclich, Nelsen and Reid were superb, switched off for only a second for Vittek’s goal but apart from that the Slovak’s struggled to find space, Winston Reid espeically was fantastic, not only did he make a game saving tackle on Sestak,but then he popped up at the other end to head the injury time equaliser, a few scouts will have taken note of him as I did here.

I expected more from Slovakia with players with Hamisk, Sestak and Weiss quality they should have cause more trouble for the All Whites, Weiss was busy looking to take people on at all time, which I like in a winger, looks to maybe not have the top level speed to make it at the top level, too early to write him off though, Vittek did very well for his goal, I mentioned earlier he was a threat with his head and he punished New Zealand with it, cross from Weiss and Vittek guided it into the net.

Hamsik disappointed me, big build up, big reputation and he didn’t play anywhere near his full potential as captain he is meant to take charge of the game and he went missing at times, New Zealand deserved their point in the end, Slovakia will be devastated by losing the 2 points in the end, they will need to play a lot better if they want to advance.

IVORY COAST

0

 

PORTUGAL

0

         
         
1.Boubacar BARRY     1.EDUARDO  
4.Kolo TOURE     2.Bruno ALVES  
5.Didier ZOKORA – Y     3.Paulo FERREIRA  
8.Salomon KALOU OUT – 66   6.Ricardo CARVALHO  
9.Cheik TIOTE     7.Cristiano RONALDO – Y  
10.GERVINHO OUT – 82   8.Pedro MENDES  
15.Aruna DINDANE     9.LIEDSON  
17.Saika TIENE     10.DANNY OUT – 55
19.Yaha TOURE     16.Raul MEIRELES OUT – 85
20.Guy DEMEL – Y     20.DECO OUT – 62
21.Emmanuel EBOUE OUT – 89   23.Fabio COENTRAO  
         
Subs     Subs  
16.ZOGBO     12.BETO  
23.Derek YEBOAH     22.Daniel FERNANDES  
2.ANGOUA     4.ROLANDO  
3.Artur BOKA     5.DUDA  
6.Steven GOHOURI     11.SIMAO IN – 55
7.Seydou DOUMBIA     13.MIGUEL  
11.Didier DROGBA IN – 66   14.Miguel VELOSO  
12.GOSSO     15.PEPE  
13.ROMARIC IN – 89   17.Ruben AMORIM IN – 85
14.KOUAMATIEN     18.Hugo ALMEIDA  
18.Kader KEITA IN – 82   19.TIAGO IN – 69
22.Sol BAMBA     21.Ricardo COSTA  

MY THOUGHTS:

All I’ve read on twitter is how bad this game was, and I just didn’t see that, both teams came out the blocks fast, Ronaldo for 10 minutes looked in the mood until he was booked, Ivory Coast had a definite gameplan got all the bodies behind the ball and try and hit on the break, I think this gameplan can only work without Drogba, as he won’t chase back for 90 minutes, but with the front 3 they had on, they chased back and frustrated the Portuguese and overall the Cote D’Ivoire were the better team, they had the better chances, Gervinho should have done better with his header in the 2nd half, a point a decent start for both teams, if there had been a loser you would think that would have been game over for their tournament, now they both have a point and both have Brazil and Korea DPR to play, anything can happen.

Zokora and Toure at the back had a great game, didn’t give Liedson a sniff of a chance and backed up by Eboue and Tiene the wide players didn’t trouble them either, Yaya Toure did what he does best, controlling the game from the middle all moves start with him and he never looked stretched at any stage, Tiote looked vvery busy, not a player I have seen often but he looked good and worked very hard trying to create openings, of the front three Gervinho was the better of the three, he looked to take on the Portuguese defence, for me his pace was wasted in the middle and with Drogba coming back I would put him on the wing to take on the fullbacks, Dindane was ok but quiet for his ability and even more so with Kalou he just wasn’t involved at all, I can’t remember him doing anything of any good.

Drogba came on and got 25 minutes but failed to make an impact, just didn’t look like he got up to speed, he will start the next game I’m sure, with his power and world class ability it will change the dynamic of the Africans front line, and they will need him against Brazil.

Portugal were very disappointing, Ronaldo smashed the post after 5 minutes and after that they struggled, Danny on the left went missing, Deco and Liedson didn’t add anything, Ronaldo failed to terrorise the defence the way he could, Raul Meireles did a good job in the middle always available for a pass and was trying to create chances, Portugal’s best players were Paulo Ferreira and youngster Fabio Coentrao both fullbacks did a great job stopping the wide threat of Ivory Coast, Coentrao looked very impressive young full back plays for Benfica and I will be keeping an eye on him.

Portugal will need to show so much more against Korea DPR they need to create more chances and i think they are too lightweight in the middle to do that, Simao will replace Danny I would think, if the Koreans defend the way they did tonight against Brazil then Portugal could struggle.

BRAZIL

2

 

KOREA DPR

1

         
MAICON (55′)     JI Yun Nam (89′)  
ELANO (72′)        
         
1.Julio CESAR     1.RI Myong Guk  
2.MAICON     2.CHA Jong Hyok  
3.LUCIO – C     3.RI Jun Il  
4.JUAN     4.PAK Nam Chol  
5.Felipe MELO OUT – 84   5.RI Kwang Chon  
6.Michel BASTOS     8.JI Yun Nam  
7.ELANO OUT – 73   9.JONG Tae Se  
8.Gilberto SILVA     10.HONG Yong Jo  
9.Luis FABIANO     11.MUN In Guk OUT – 80
10.KAKA OUT – 78   13.PAK Chol Jin  
11.ROBINHO     17.AN Yong Hak  
         
Subs     Subs  
12.GOMES     18.KIM Myong Gil  
22.DONI     20.KIM Myong Won  
13.Dani ALVES IN – 73   16.KIM Kum Il IN – 80
14.LUISAO     12.CHOE Kum Chol  
15.Thiago SILVA     14.PAK Nam Chol  
16.GILBERTO     16.NAM Song Chol  
17.JOSUE     19.RI Chol Myong  
18.RAMIRES – Y IN – 84   21.RI Kwang Hyok  
19.Julio BAPTISTA     15.KIM Yong Jun – INJ  
20.KLEBERSON     7.AN Chol Hyok  
21.NILMAR IN – 78   22.KIM Kyong Il  
23.GRAFITE     23.PAK Sung Hyok  

MY THOUGHTS:

Everyone was waiting for the arrival of Brazil and I think for 45 minutes everyone was a bit dumbfounded, noone had given Korea a chance of doing anything, I myself had said 4-0 in an earlier prediction, myself and pundits alike couldn’t have been more wrong, for 55 minutes the Koreans defended expertly, not giving Brazil any time in the middle of the park and containing them out wide, then when they got the ball they looked to pour forward and cause an upset, once Maicon had opened the scoring some more space opened up and Elano made it two, everyone like me probably thought the goals would come now, this wasn’t to be and Korea snatched a dreamland goal by Ji Yun-Nam after a great knockdown by Jong Tae-Se a great performance from the Koreans.

Brazil at times looked superb, but in contrast at times looked to lack ideas, the Koreans worked to stifle them but Brazil could have done more to open them up, only once did Michel Bastos take on the Korea right back, too often did he cut inside making it easy for them to defend a narrow side, he did smash a cracking free-kick just past the post with his thunderous left foot, Lucio and Juan looked stunned by the early play by Tae-Se but dealt much better with him in the 2nd half, Melo and Silva did the usual job of the water carriers, breaking up any of Korea’s fast breaks.

I lost count of how many times Fabiano was caught offside, he didn’t have a good night, some nice touches but overall disappointing, Maicon was one of the better players athough he didn’t attack the byline as much as he could but when he did he smashed in a wonderful goal true Brazilian style outside of the boot with great swerve, the man of the night though was Robinho he looked superb from the first minute he looked up for it, pulling tricks and flicks and taking on players everytime he had the ball, if anything was going to happen it was going to come through him, and the 2nd goal was superb a fantastically weighted ball was dispatched first time by Elano, Robinho deserved a goal but his performance was good enough and looks like he has more in the bag.

I think Brazil will get better as the games go on, it’s hard taking on a team with 9 players behind the ball and a back 5 trying to stop you playing, in the confederations cup they played at their best on the break and they will get more space against Portugal and Ivory Coast.

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3 games that I am actually looking forward to today, got New Zealand v Slovakia, I admit I know very little of the New Zealand team, Chris Killen, Rory Fallon, Ryan Nelsen and that’s it so will be interesting to see them play, Slovakia I think have a chance to shock a few times, Martin Hamsik is a quality player, Vittek upfront is great in the air, not seen the teams yet, so don’t know who’s playing.

Then we have Ivory Coast v Portugal, what a game this could be, 2 very strong teams and this match could guarentee 2nd place in the group, rumours are Drogba will play, an Ivory Coast team packed with stars against what is to me a Portugal team rebuilding after their Golden Era but they still have quality players.

Then it’s a match I am really looking forward to Brazil v North Korea, so many memories watching Brazil at World Cups, against a team that is the unknown entity, not one household name player, but they will have the eyes of a nation on them….only if they win, North Korea will only be shown the game back home if they win apparently, which is such a shame, can they pull off a shock like they did in ’66

**Players to Watch**

1.Vladimir Weiss (Slovakia) – Hot young prospect and the coachs son, was on loan at Bolton from Man City this season, plays on the wing, has alot of skill, great platform for him to shine.

2.Martin Hamsik (Slovakia) – The Napoli forward is a great player, likes to play off the front man, has an eye for goal, great technique, if he played for one of the top nations the media would be purring over him.

3.Robert Vittek (Slovakia) - the former Nuremberg and Lille front man is a great target man, holds the ball up well, great in the air, his best days may be behind him, but a player you still need to give respect to.

4.Chris Killen (New Zealand) – Didn’t have the best time at Celtic but his Hibs scoring record was very impressive, could lead the All Whites attack, but he hasn’t exactly set the league alight in Middlesbrough, could this be his stage.

5.Gervinho (Ivory Coast) - The Lille winger has had a great season, after a slow start he exploded, with his blistering pace and ability to score a great foil for Drogba, Looking forward to seeing him reproduce his club form for the world to see.

6.Michel Bastos (Brazil) - Following the great tradition of Brazilian Left Backs next comes Bastos, who is actually a Left Winger for his club Lyon but will suit Brazil’s style of pushing forward, he has an absoulte rocket of a left foot and will let fly if he gets the chance, and will take over the set-pieces, I predict a “next Roberto Carlos reference from the commentators

7.Ramires (Brazil) - I hope Ramires comes on at some stage today, Dunga has been playing Elano I prefer Ramires in the midfield he charges forward but defends well also, gives his all, powerful running and showed he can score in the game against Tanzania, the Benfica man could be the missing piece of this Brazilian jigsaw.

8.Jong Tae-Se (North Korea) - Never seen him play, but I read that he promised he would score in every game he played at this World Cup, so he’s made the claim, let’s see if he can deliver, I refuse to believe that they can be as bad as people think they will, time will tell.

**Predictions**

NEW ZEALAND 0 – 2 SLOVAKIA

IVORY COAST 2 – 1 PORTUGAL

BRAZIL 4 – 0 NORTH KOREA

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