After yesterday’s great games setting up the great Quarter Final of Germany v Argentina I started today hoping that the games today would set up another great Quarter Final and Netherlands v Brazil, standing in that way were the shock nation Slovakia and the very entertaining Chile.

NETHERLANDS

2

 

SLOVAKIA

1

Arjen ROBBEN (18′)     Robert VITTEK (90+4′)  
Wesley SNEIJDER (84′)        
         
1.Maarten STEKELENBERG – Y     1.Jan MUCHA  
2.Gregory VAN DER WIEL     2.Peter PEKARIK  
3.John HEITINGA     3.Martin SKRTEL – Y  
4.Joris MATHIJSEN     5.Radoslav ZABAVNIK OUT – 88
5.Giovanni VAN BRONCKHORST     7.Vladimir WEISS  
6.Mark VAN BOMMEL     11.Robert VITTEK  
7.Dirk KUYT     15.Miroslav STOCH  
8.Nigel DE JONG     16.Jan DURICA  
9.Robin VAN PERSIE OUT – 80   17.Marek HAMSIK – C OUT – 87
10.Wesley SNEIJDER OUT – 92   18.Erik JENDRISEK OUT – 71
11.Arjen ROBBEN – Y OUT – 71   19.Juraj KUCKA – Y  
         
Subs     Subs  
17.Eljero ELIA IN – 71   10.Marek SAPARA IN – 87
20.Ibrahim AFELLAY IN – 92   14.Martin JAKUBKO IN – 88
21.Klass Jan HUNTELAAR IN – 80   20.Kamil KOPUNEK – Y IN – 71

MY THOUGHTS

Arjen Robben made his comeback and gave a whole new balance to the side, giving the width that van der Vaart just doesn’t provide, and he completely terrorised the Slovak defence breaking down the right cutting inside and firing the ball low past Mucha in the Slovakian net. Robben was superb looked very fit and sharp, Sneijder also played well, trying to always stay open and controlling the play.

Heitinga and Mathijsen were caught out of position a few times today, Vittek had a chance to equalise in the second half, but he could only fire his shot straight at Stekelenberg, he should have done better, any attempt to place it, would have brought the scores level. Questions had been asked over the Dutch defence before the tournament and this was the first time they had been tested.

I feared the worst for Slovakia before the game and they proved me wrong and played pretty well, Weiss and Stoch cause problems down the channels always looking to find Vittek with the final ball, Slovakia could have easily have brought the scores level, until that is Holland got their second, Mucha charged out, Kuyt beat him to the ball, he then squared it to Sneijder and he made it 2-0 and the game was safe.

Vittek eventually got his goal, Stekelenberg brought down Jakubko inside the box, Vittek picked up the ball put it on the spot and with the last kick of the game he made it 2-1 and got his 4th goal of the World Cup.

Slovakia will leave the World Cup knowing they have exceeded their own expectations, and you can’t ask anymore from a team than that.

BRAZIL

3

 

CHILE

0

JUAN (35′)        
LUIS FABIANO (38′)        
ROBINHO (59′)        
         
1.Julio CESAR     1.Claudio BRAVO  
2.MAICON     2.Ismael FUENTES – Y  
3.LUCIO – C     4.Mauricio ISLA OUT- 62
4.JUAN     5.Pablo CONTRERAS OUT – 46
6.Michel BASTOS     6.Carlos CARMONA  
8.Gilberto SILVA     7.Alexis SANCHEZ  
9.Luis FABIANO OUT – 76   8.Arturo VIDAL – Y  
10.KAKA – Y OUT – 81   9.Humberto SUAZO  
11.ROBINHO OUT – 85   11.Mark GONZALEZ OUT – 46
13.Dani ALVES     15.Jean BEAUSEJOUR  
18.RAMIRES – Y     18.Gonzalo JARA  
         
Subs     Subs  
16.GILBERTO IN – 85   10.Jorge VALDIVIA IN – 46
20.KLEBERSON IN – 81   20.Rodrigo MILLAR – Y IN – 62
21.NILMAR IN – 76   21.Rodrigo TELLO IN – 46

MY THOUGHTS

A commanding performance from Brazil, although Chile started the better team, they never really tested Julio Cesar, along with Lucio and Juan putting in imperious performances it never looked any more than a stroll from the Samba boys. Kaka looked more like the player we know and love, making some nice runs, setting up Fabiano from the goal, with every match he looks sharper.

Robinho is playing very well so far, linking with Fabiano and Kaka so well, his goal was set up after a powerful run by Felipe Melo replacement Ramires, a very strong powerful players, he danced through 5 Chile players layed the ball off to Robinho and he curled it past Bravo, this was the cherry on the cake, at the bottom of the cake was Communication and discline first and a great header from Juan got them on their way.

Alves did a good job filling in for Elano although not as creative, he filled in well for Maicon and fought hard in the middle of the pitch.

Chile tried to play their attractive football and for all they have twisted and turned and dazzles us, I just wonder if they have a finishing product a cutting edge, only 2 goals in this World Cup is not good enough for an all out attacking team. Again Beausejour and Sanchez showed nice glimpses, Suazo was very ineffective not the same player of the qualifying process.

They picked up fans on the way through this tournament however on the grand scheme of things it was just a step to far to think they could beat Brazil in this form, it will take a good team to put the Brazilians out, unfortunately for England the better team won.

QUARTER FINALS – NETHERLANDS v BRAZIL

What a match we have here, 5 times champions against the wannabes, my mind already casts back to the 5 goal thriller of 94 with Romario’s goal and the cradle celebration, then the penalty defeat for the Dutch in France 98, Taffarreal the hero, so many attacking players, 2 similar styles either it will cancel each other out or it will be a classic, I’m hoping for a 6-5.

Brazil just edge it.

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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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