Brent Atema stands in as host along with guests Euan Marshall and Ed Malyon to discuss the action in the Copa America Group Stages.

Best moments, players, goals etc are all up for discussion. And they also look forward to the Knock-out stages.

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As we look ahead to July’s Copa America, here’s the second of our three-part preview by the wonderful Ed Malyon, looking at Group B.

There’s not much to say about Brazil that hasn’t been said previously. Mano Menezes is currently using the 4-2-3-1 that’s been very popular in domestic football in the last 18 months. It allows the wealth of attacking talent to all fit into the XI with, of course, plenty in reserve. Santos starlet Neymar plays on the left of the attacking three, most probably alongside Robinho and former Manchester City man, Elano.

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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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Another 4 games today and a bit of a shock, the reigning World Champions Italy are out, and 2 teams that failed to impress in their first game have advance, anything can happen at this World Cup.

SLOVAKIA

3

 

ITALY

2

Robert VITTEK (25′, 73′)     Antonio DI NATALE (81′)  
Kamil KOPUNEK (89′)     Fabio QUAGLIARELLA (90+2′)  
         
1.Jan MUCHA – Y     12.Federico MARCHETTI  
2.Peter PEKARIK – Y     3.Domenico CRISCITO OUT – 46
3.Martin SKRTEL     4.Giorgio CHIELLINI – Y  
5.Radoslav ZABAVNIK     5.Fabio CANNAVARO – C – Y  
6.Zdenko STRBA – Y OUT – 87   6.Daniele DE ROSSI  
11.Robert VITTEK – Y OUT – 92   7.Simone PEPE – Y  
15.Miroslav STOCH     8.Gennaro GATTUSO OUT – 46
16.Jan DURICA     9.Vincenzo IAQUINTA  
17.Marek HAMSIK – C     10.Antonio DI NATALE  
18.Erik JENDRISEK OUT – 94   19.Gianluca ZAMBROTTA  
19.Juraj KUCKA     22.Riccardo MONTOLIVO OUT – 56
         
Subs     Subs  
9.Stanislav SESTAK IN – 92   2.Christian MAGGIO IN – 46
20.Kamil KOPUNEK IN – 87   18.Fabio QUAGLIARELLA – Y IN – 46
22.Martin PETRAS IN – 94   21.Andrea PIRLO IN – 56

MY THOUGHTS

What a game this was Slovakia started well showing more pace to their passing than the first two games, and a bit of purpose to their play, Italy started poor, bad touches, wayward passes, looked a poor Italian side compared to sides of the past, and Slovakia took the lead a nice slide rule pass from Strba into Vittek and big Bob placed it in the only place Marchetti couldn’t save it, a dream start for Vladimir Weiss’s men.

Di Natale had a great chance to level it before half time but his shot was skewed wide, Lippi made changes Zambrotta and Quagiarella coming on and they made a impact, italy came out all guns blazing but couldn’t penetrate the Slovakia back line, Skrtel had a great game, entipified by his clearance of the line denying Italy a route back into the game, and then it was 2-0 a low cross from the right was turned in by Vittek for his 2rd of the tournament, Italian defenders slow to react to the danger and the big man put his country one step closer to the Last 16, Vittek was superb leading the line on his own helped out by Hamsik behind him and Stoch out wide.

With 35 minutes left Lippi played his last card, the mecurial Andrea Pirlo entered the game trying to find that killer pass and he improved the team with his range of passing, however it was Quagiarella that opened up the Slovaks his run from deep then the flick from Iaquinta put him in on goal, Mucha saved his shot but the rebound fell to Di Natale and he made no mistake. The Italians back in the game, and it should have got better, Pepe’s cross from the left was met by Quagiarella and he turned it past Mucha, the linesman had his flag up, Offside, I don’t agree, the rule states if you have any part of your body that can play the ball ahead of the defender your offside, to me Skrtel’s leg is behind Quagiarella’s header, the goal should have stood.

Slovakia then killed the game off, substitute Kopunek just on, ran from deep and caught the defence sleeping he met the throw in and placed it over Marchetti’s head a great finish for your first touch in a World Cup, the Slovak fans went mental, it wasn’t over though.

With 3 mintues another lifeline for the Italians the really impressive Quagiarella picked the ball up on the edge of the box and placed a delightful chip into the top corner over Mucha’s head a great goal, and begs the question why didn’t the Napoli striker appear earlier in this group he had a drive and a purpose and that touch of Italian class missing from the side, 3-2 and into injury time, would the reigning Champions get another chance.

Yes they would and it fell to Pepe, the ball came over from the right and Pepe who started on the right found space at the back post, he attacked the ball with his right foot and the great chance was lost as the ball went wide, surely if he had taken it with his left the Italians would have qualified, he didn’t and they have finished bottom of the group, a nightmare World Cup and proves the point….You never go back!!!

Slovakia will take on the Netherlands in the last 16, after watching the first 2 games you wouldn’t give them a chance, after watching this game, you never know what can happen.

PARAGUAY

0  

NEW ZEALAND

0
         
1.Justo VILLAR     1.Mark PASTON  
3.Claudio MOREL     3.Tony LOCHHEAD  
4.Denis CANIZA     4.Winston REID  
5.Julio Cesar CACERES     5.Ivan VICELICH  
7.Oscar CARDOZO OUT – 66   6.Ryan NELSEN  
9.Roque SANTA CRUZ – Y     7.Simon ELLIOT  
13.Enrique VERA     9.Shane SMELTZ  
14.Paulo DA SILVA     10.Chris KILLEN OUT – 79
15.Victor CACERES – Y     11.Leo BERTOS  
16.Cristian RIVEROS     14.Rory FALLON OUT – 69
18.Nelson VALDEZ OUT – 67   19.Tommy SMITH  
         
Subs     Subs  
19.Lucas BARRIOS IN – 66   20.Chris WOOD IN – 69
10.Edgar BENITEZ IN – 67   22.Jeremy BROCKIE IN – 79

MY THOUGHTS

Just watched the extended highlights of this game, didn’t seem the best game ever Paraguay doing enough to qualify, they were definitely the better team over the 90minutes, 35 year odl fullback Dennis Caniza seemed on a personal mission to score for his country firing 3 or 4 shots close to the top corner, New Zealand did a good defensively, limiting Paraguay to shots from long range, and with the struggles teams have had with the Jabulani ball that’s not a bad plan.

Riveros managed to flick a header towards goal in the second half that Mark Paston had to be lively to palm away, I have been impressed with Paston, not the first choice keeper, but he has shown to be very capable and a good shot stopper the Wellington Phoenix player although he’s 33 he might be watched by a few British teams.

I was disappointed with Oscar Cardozo, getting the start ahead of Lucas Barrios and from what they showed it looked like he didn’t get very involved, looks like he is still short of match fitness and that will be why Martino gave him the minutes, I will hope he shows more in the knockout phase.

New Zealand can go home with their heads held high after 3 games 3 points, much better than anyone had predicted, and only 1 goal away from going to the last 16, Paraguay move on to face Japan, which would see either team make it to the Quarter-Finals for the first time, lots to play for there.

DENMARK

1

 

JAPAN

3

Jon Dahl TOMASSON (81′)     Keisuke HONDA (17′)  
      Yashuito ENDO (30′)  
      Shinji OKAZAKI (87′)  
         
1.Thomas SORENSEN     1.Eiji KAWASHIMA  
2.Christian POULSEN – Y     2.Yuki ABE  
4.Daniel AGGER     3.Yuichi KOMANO  
6.Lars JACOBSEN     4.Marcus Tulio TANAKA  
9.Jon Dahl TOMASSON – C     5.Yuto NAGATOMO – Y  
10.Martin JORGENSEN OUT – 34   7.Yasuhito ENDO – Y OUT – 91
11.Nicklas BENDTNER – Y     8.Daisuke MATSUI OUT – 74
12.Thomas KAHLENBERG OUT – 63   16.Yoshito OKUBO OUT – 88
13.Per KROLDRUP – Y OUT – 56   17.Makoto HASEBE ©  
15.Simon POULSEN     18.Keisuke HONDA  
19.Dennis ROMMEDAHL     22.Yuji NAKAZAWA  
         
Subs     Subs  
14.Jakob POULSEN IN – 34   9.Shinji OKAZAKI IN – 74
18.Soren LARSEN IN – 56   15.Yasuyuki KONNO IN – 88
21.Christian ERIKSEN IN – 63   20.Junichi INAMOTO IN – 91

MY THOUGHTS

I choose this game to watch over Netherlands v Cameroon as I love a situation when both teams in the same game can seal their own fate, and that’s what we had, Japan v Denmark, winner takes it all.

Both teams started well, cagey but at the same time quite open, Japan took the game to the Danes Matsui and Hasebe creating half chances Hasebe’s shot narrowly going wide, Japan’s midfield has been superb this tournament Hasebe, Endo and Matsui working very hard but also have that creative edge you need to back up the talents of Honda, Okubo and Okazaki, and it was Honda that opened the scoring and in some style, a free kick 30 yards out, looked to far out to have a try, Keisuke Honda had different ideas, he smashed the ball into the far corner some movement on the ball but Sorensen should have done better, but no doubt a quality free-kick from the CSKA Moscow man.

13 minutes later Japan won another free-kick and Honda stood over it with Endo, everyones money on Honda having another go, with all eyes on Honday, Sorensen could only watch as Endo curled the ball round the wall and past the Stoke keeper into a dream 2-0 lead. Been really impressed with Endo midfield qualties nice to see him showing a danger from set-pieces too.

Japan were in control and heading the second round, Denmark needing something to spark them into action, help cam in the form of 19-year old midfielder Christian Eriksen, showing sme industry in the midfield he had a shot sail narrowly over the bar, the lifeline came with 9 minutes to go Hasebe bundled into the back of Agger and the referee pointed to the spot, Jon Dahl Tomasson stepped up trying to equal a record 52 goals for his country, poor penalty saved by Kawashima the ball rolled back to Tomasson and his second attempt although unconvincing just made it into the net.

The come back was short lived though, the superb Honda danced into the box, a superb turn past the defender, he then slipped the ball to Okazaki and he tapped it into the empty net, sealed Japan’s qualification and sent the Samirai Blue fans into delirium.

Japan will face Paraguay in the 2nd round and you would have to say they have a chance to make the quarters if they perform like todays match, Honda the man to stop.

CAMEROON

1

 

NETHERLANDS

2

Samuel ETO’O (65′ PEN)     Robin VAN PERSIE (36′)  
      Klass Jan HUNTELAAR (83′)  
         
16.Hamidou SOULEYMANOU     1.Maarten STEKELENBERG  
2.Benoit ASSOU-EKOTTO     3.John HEITINGA  
3.Nicolas N’KOULOU – Y OUT – 73   4.Joris MATHIJSEN  
7.Landry N’GUEMO     5.Giovanni VAN BRONCKHORST – C – Y  
8.GEREMI     6.Mark VAN BOMMEL  
9.Samuel ETO’O     7.Dirk KUYT – Y OUT – 66
11.Jean MAKOUN     8.Nigel DE JONG  
12.Gaetan BONG OUT- 56   9.Robin VAN PERSIE OUT – 59
13.Eric CHOUPO-MOTING OUT – 72   10.Wesley SNEIJDER  
14.Aurelien CHEDJOU     12.Khalid BOULAHROUZ  
19.Stephane M’BIA – Y     23.Rafael VAN DER VAART – Y OUT – 73
         
Subs     Subs  
4.Rigobert SONG IN – 73   11.Arjen ROBBEN IN – 73
17.Mohamadou IDRISSOU IN – 72   17.Eljero ELIA IN – 66
23.Vicent ABOUBAKAR IN – 56   21.Klass Jan HUNTELAAR IN – 59

MY THOUGHTS

I have not had chance to watch the Holland v Cameroon highlights yet, and my system at work can’t play videos from BBC website which is highly annoying, good victory for Netherlands and they progress with a 100% record and win the group, I will add some more thoughts later when I see the game.

They will play Slovakia in the 2nd round, and they are heavy favourites to progress from that, is this Hollands year to finally win the biggest prize?

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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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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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Morning all,I have been wanting to do previews since the start but not found the time, hopefully it can continue from today, not gonna be massive pieces, just players to watch, predictions, that kind of thing.

NETHERLANDSDENMARK – 12:30

This has the potential to be one of the great games of the tournament, 2 strong teams and both need a win to kick off their campaign.

***Players to Watch***

1.Gregory van der Wiel (Netherlands) - Impressive Ajax right back, will be unknown to most, loves to get forward, can play in a good cross, and can also defend pretty well.

2.Simon Kjaer (Denmark) - Palermo’s big centre back, tracked by all the big teams, a good tournament will see his value rise big test today against the Dutch forward line, interesting to see how he does.

3.Christian Eriksen (Denmark) - Rumours are this impressive teenager could start for Denmark today, the Danes have never fielded a teenager at a World Cup, the unknown midfielder has impressed at U-20 level, on the books at Ajax, reported he has already been shown round Real Madrid’s training complex, one to look out for.

JAPAN v CAMEROON – 15:00

Cameroon the 4th of the 6 African teams to play, pundits favourties of all the african teams to do well, with Eto’o, Song and Emana they have the ability to get out this group, I am wondering if Eto’o doesn’t score where the goals will come from, Korea showed on Sunday that you don’t need size and power to play well, Japan will take heart from this, the skills of Honda, Nakamura and Matsui will cause problems.

**Players to Watch**

1.Achille Emana (Cameroon) – Apart from Eto’o Achille is Cameroon’s highest scorer in the squad, can play off the front man or on the wings, very creative, loves bombing forward, powerful runner.

2.Shinji Okazaki (Japan) - A Player very much in form 16 goals in the last year make him a dangerous prospect, good movement off the ball works hard to find space, the Cameroon defence will have to stay alert.

3.Nicolas N’Koulou (Cameroon) - Strong central defender, had a starring role for Monaco this year, could be one of the stand out players in South Africa, has the experience of Rigobert Song potentially beside him.

ITALY v PARAGUAY – 19:30

The two big guns in Group F match up, both will fancy going through but they will not want to lose this, Paraguay have a talented squad, 4 quality strikers that will cause teams damage, a solid midfield and back line, the Italians will need to be at their best to dispatch Paraguay

**Players to Watch**

1.Lucas Barrios (Paraguay) – One of the great World Cup stories, 2 months ago he was Argetinian and had a great Bundesliga season, now he has his Paraguayan passport has scored 3 in 3 and could be the big goal threat in Group F

2.Antonio Di Natale (Italy) - Played as a subsitute most of his International career, now has the chance to shine, 29 league goals for Udinese is very impressive, pace, skill and an eye for goal, can’t ask for much else.

3.Oscar Cardozo (Paraguay) - Most likely to start on the bench, Santa Cruz getting the nod on experience, Oscar will come on at some point and he is deadly, can score from anywhere on the pitch, goals out of nothing he is a deadly predator 26 goals in 29 games for Benfica, not somone to leave unmarked.

**PREDICTIONS**

Now so far is this tournament I am off to a great start, I have predicted the score in all 8 games, and got every one wrong, I predcited correctly Argentina, Slovenia and Germany would win, but got the scores wrong, so I have an on going joke that I will get every result wrong, so here goes Day 4.

NETHERLANDS 3 DENMARK 1

JAPAN 0 CAMEROON 1

ITALY 2 PARAGUAY 2

If you agree or disagree let me know, give me your predictons

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