A week into the World Cup and I am like a child who has been promised candy but has not got it yet. Face it. The World Cup has been, at best, bland after the first week. Though it got better as the days progressed and the future looks promising, I am not yet the candied kid. A few teams like Germany and Argentina rescued the tournament from being utterly crass, but the disappointment persists. A few matches have gone by and it is time to take a look at what happened.
South Africa vs Mexico- Opening match of the tournament was literally a tale of two halfs. South Africa, to be frank, was almost horrible in the first period, their game quite amateurish, while Mexico dominated proceedings creating chances and converting none. In the second half, a sublime strike by the sublimely named Tshbalala put the hosts ahead only for Mexico to strike back. On the whole a decent game. Bu World Cup quality? Na.
France vs Uruguay- The second match saw a floundering France barely managing to keep up with Uruguay. France has reportedly been plagued by infighting and rivalry within the team and it showed on the pitch as Les Bleus looked very short of ideas and zest. Uruguay, led admirably by their two forwards, Forlan and Suarez, did a lot of running but ultimately lacked the penetration to trouble Hugo Lloris in the French goal.
South Korea vs Greece- I missed the match because I was playing football at school. I think playing was definitely more exciting than watching a drab Greek tragedy as a hard wroking and efficent South Korea completely over ran the European qualifiers.
Argentina vs Nigeria- The world switched on its T.V sets to watch the world's best player, Lionel Messi. And he did not disappoint. He troubled the Nigerian defence with swervng runs and was denied thrice by an excellent VIncent Enyemu in the Nigerian goal. Argentina looked quite a champion team in its demeanour and style of play as Nigeria was left gasping for breath.
England vs U.S.A- England took on the USA!USA!!USA!!!(as The Guardian calls it) in one of the most awaited matches this world cup. England is most often a big let down, but they started positively with a goal in four minutes. In the fourty fourth munte Robert Green, Enlgand's goal keeper, showed the world that British PEtroleum was not the only British thing prone to leaks as he let Dempsey's tame shot slip out of his hands in to the goal. The match then became a midfield battle with not many chances, until Altidore troubled the England goal mouth. Green redeemed himself by making a fine save. England were once again a big let down.
Algeria vs Slovenia- Another of those matches which led many to call this World Cup the most boring in recent history. Somwhere in the last five minutes, I found myself woken up by the raised voice of the commentator signifying Slovenia had scored through a goal keeping error.
Serbia vs Ghana- Was far above the previous matches in standard of play and entertainment offered. Both teams created and missed chances until a handball and sending off gave Ghana a goal from the penalty spot. The witches could not work their magic and Ghana easily scratched out the itches.
Germany vs Australia- Undoubtedly the best match so far by many a mile. The Germans were simply scintillating with amazing runs off the ball and some pin point passing. Aussies had no idea awhat was going on, which was worsened when Tim Cahill was unfairly sent off. Germany seriously looked the goods and is touted to go a long way with their youngest squad ever.
Netherlands vs Denmark- The Oranje was a team everybody looked forward to, except the Danes. Reputed for their dashing stylistic game, they promised a treat. It did not turn out quite in to a treat, as the Danes pegged back the Dutch, not allowing them much space. In the end, a freak own goal and some fast running gave the Dutch a deserved victory. The Dutch played like the Germans and the Germans played like the Dutch.
Japan vs Cameroon- A match between two distinct styles of football, the pacey, diminutive Japs prevailed through an opportunistic strike. The Africans failed to exert themselves until late in the match and paid the price for it.
Italy vs Paraguay- I am not insomniac. I am perfectly capable of falling asleep by myself and do not need to watch Italy play to do so. So I skipped the match.
New Zealand vs Slovakia- Yet another drab match. Brightened up by the Kiwis' late goal.
Ivory Coast vs Portugal- Another much awaited game and did provide decent entertainment. I half expected Drogba to play with a ten kilo metal cast and leave at least three Portugese players incapacitated but that was not to be. But still, a good match. Either side could have scored, but they were a bit too generous to their opponents.
Brazil vs North Korea- It was the highest ranked team vs the lowest ranked team. And what pissed me off was that the commentator on ESPN kept reminding me of this fact. The commentator was extremely patronising of Korea, praising in hyperbole every tackle and every pass they made. It was sickening. The guy seemed to think that North Korea comprised of players playing in wheel chairs against the Justice League. The game ws quite entertaining. The Brazillians realised that there was no point in leaving anybody to defend after five minutes. North Koreans had already decided that there was no point in sending any one to attack. The Asian Rooney, as the Korean press called the star forward in a red shirt was hardly as good as Roney (a senior of mine at school who plays decent football). The Koreans defended extremely well until Maicon's magic (or luck) finally gave the Samba Boys some respite and was followed by Elano. The Koreans managed to score in the end, a testament to their spirit. Surely, they aren't the bad folks the Western media makes them out to be.
Honduras vs Chile- A game which threatened to slip in to new found levels of drabiness. Livened up by some enterprising Chile attacks. Ultimately, Chile was too hot to handle for the Central Americans and Palacios brothers.
Spain vs Switzerland- The game which made the most headlines. Spain, boasting stars of amazing calibre, fell 1-0 to the Swiss, an opportunistic goal by Gelson Fernandes sealing the issue. Credit to the Swiss for defending as if their lives depended on it and to an excellent Diego Benaglio under the bar.
South Africa vs Uruguay- The second round of group games began. The host were beaten all ends up by Forlan and Uruguay. Nothing more, nothing less.
Argentina vs South Korea- The Albiceleste was out to rock again and Leo Messi came up with the goods. Though he failed to score, he carried the team forward with that amazing skill. Higuain scored the first hat trick of the World CUp as Korea could only marvel at the Argentine game.
Greece vs Nigeria- At the outset, a drab, boring match. But it was everything except that. The match is best described as a thriller novel, with all the characteristics of a Sheldon or Archer. Nigeria dominated the first half, going one up through a lucky free kick. But some where in the thirtieth minute, a Nigerian dude called Kaita got sent off for trying to kick a Greek dude in the balls and finding only the thigh.At any rate, it was for kicking. The game turned and how! Rehhagel took off a defensive midfielder and brought in the irresistable Samaras and the Greeks were on the hunt, like an Athena. Just before half time, their toils were rewarded with a goal. The Nigerian goal keeper, Vincent Enyemu made at least four world class saves, befor spilling a shot and allowing Tzorisidis to score. In the end Nigeria slipped to defeat because there was Greece everywhere.
The Greeks have such awesome names. My personal favourites were Sokratis Pappasthopoulos, Kostas Katsouranis and Avraam Pappadapolous. Nigerians were not that bad, contributing to the name game through Danny Shittu and Dickson Etuhu.
France vs Mexico- The French suffered the shock of their lifetime by losing 2-0 to an enterprising Mexican side. Raymond Domenech is one step away from being as crazy as Maradona. At least Maradona's team is winning. Dopey Domenech once left a player out his squad on astrlogical grounds. As France missed the reassuring presence of Zidane, questions are bound to be raised as to why the new Zizou, Samir Nasri was not even included in the squad.
Germany vs Serbia- The sexy Mayanti Langer wanted to see how the young German side would cope under pressure and she got her wish. Miroslav Klose got sent off in the 37th minute by a referee who was too eager to flash cards. Serbia scored against the dazed Germans immediately. Germany regrouped and created a few chances and even earned a penalty only for Podolski's shot to be saved. The second biggest shick of the tournament.
Slovenia vs U.S.A- A ripper of a match. One of the best this World Cup as U.S.A justified their world rankiing of 14 by coming back form two goals down to draw the match. Great performance from both sides.
England vs Algeria- For an England supporter like me, there was only three words on the tongue. They were England, was and shit in that order. A hugely disappointing match, when almost every England player switched off. The only decent players were Ashley Cole and David James. Rooney was not even as good as Roney while Gerrard and Lampard looked lost as the stunnig club form was nowhere to be seen. Two or three years ago, a defensive error by Terry was something museums would pay millions for, but now it is too common to even befit a couple of exclamation marks. Capello baffled everyone by playing Heskey till the 70th minute and replacing him with Defoe in the same formation when clearly that formation was not working. Nobody but Capello knows why Joe Cole did not make an appearence. A big blow for England. They now need to beat Slovenia by a good margin to top the group, but nobody is betting on it.