After a disappointing opening weekend in the World Cup there were many things I was able to notice despite the lack of any real excitement. Here is a top 10 of everything I noticed during the opening weekend:
10. Germany look impressive
Germany a usually conservative football team, stormed to victory in their opening game crushing an Australia side who on paper are a decent team; by four goals to nil. The Germans were in complete control throughout and hardly seem to break a sweat in their victory. Despite the Aussies playing with 10 men for most of the second half after Cahill’s unfair sending off, Germany were practically in complete control anyway. Having praised Germany’s efforts this does however bring me on to my next point…..
9. Do Germany actually have any players of their own?
Three of Germany’s goalscorers were not even born in Germany! Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose were both born in Poland and Cacau was born in Brazil. The impressive man of the match Mesut Ozil despite being born in Germany has Turkish parents. Germany’s starting 11 also included midfielder Sami Khedira who has a Tunisian father, Germany’s three substitutes were all of foreign descent, Cacau who has been previously mentioned was born in Brazil, winger Marko Marin is originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Mario Gomez has a Spanish father.
Out of Germany’s unused substitutes Serdar Tasci was born in Germany to Turkish parents, Manchester City’s new signing Jerome Boateng has a Ghanaian father. Dennis Aogo is of Nigerian decent and Piotr Trochowski was born in Poland. This all means that only 12 of Germany’s 23 man squad could be considered “entirely German”.
8. Siphiwe Tshabalala will be playing in the Premiership next season
Previously unheard of before this tournament, South Africa’s left-winger ensured that the opening goal of the World Cup was a stunner. The 25-year-old received the ball after a lovely passing move and kept his composure in front of goal before slotting home a lovely finish past the Mexican goalkeeper. Following his display Tshabalala was named as man of the match and having come to prominence following his goal; it would be typical of a Premier League club to sign him this summer.
7. Gerrard and Lampard STILL cannot play together
Part of the reason for England’s disappointing 1-1 draw against the USA was due to the American’s midfield display and they were able to have a good game due to Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard’s inability to impose themselves. Despite Gerrard having a good game and capping his appearance with a goal, he still wasn’t able to form a proper partnership with the Chelsea midfielder. England will be longing for Gareth Barry’s return to the side to give them such much needed balance in the middle of the park.
6. He may be crazy but Diego Maradona could win Argentina the World Cup
Despite only beating Nigeria by one goal, Argentina looked very impressive in their game and could and should have won by more goals. Apart from Germany, the Argentines have looked the most impressive side so far and after the nightmare they had in qualifying Maradona looks to have finally got them playing football. The array of talent they have at their disposal is frightening and they are more than capable of turning on the style at any given moment. A slow but effective start could well suit Argentina and this could be their year.
5. Some of the players need to calm down!
As of writing there has been four red cards shown so far in the World Cup after just three days of football. Uruguay player Nicolas Lodeiro became the first player to see red in the World Cup after just 16 minutes on the pitch against France on the opening day. All three of Sunday’s games featured a red card with Algeria’s Abdelkader Ghezzal being the first recipient after picking up two yellow cards in their game against Slovenia. Aleksandar Lukovic was dismissed after picking up two yellow cards for Serbia against Ghana. Finally Tim Cahill was given a harsh straight red for a bad but unintentional tackle in Australia’s game against Germany.
Whilst the red cards may make the games more entertaining surely four red cards in three days is too many?
4. Raymond Domenech should not be France manager
After not picking players because of their star signs, proposing to his girlfriend live on national television moments after France’s group stage exit in Euro 2008 and generally falling out with his players. Domenech can now add not making a substitute until 20 minutes before the end of France’s game against Uruguay to his growing list of blunders. France looked well and truly out of ideas in their 0-0 draw with Uruguay, yet Domenech with all the talent at his disposal didn’t make a change until late on in the game. The lack of ability to score a single goal against a distinctly average-looking Uruguay team must be worrying French fans who before the World Cup would have aspirations of going all the way. Now a repeat of their 2002 group stage exit without scoring a single goal wouldn’t look that unlikely.
3. England have nothing to worry about
Although England’s game against USA raised a lot of questions, England can be confident of doing away with both Algeria and Slovenia with consummate ease. Both sides looked dire and if it wasn’t for Robert Koren’s late goal then the match could have been a contender for ‘Worst ever game at a World Cup finals’. England will have no problem seeing of these two, however…..
2. Rob Green couldn’t catch a cold
Failing to perform a routine stop and gifting USA their equaliser has seen Rob Green come under all kinds of stick from the media. However the West Ham goalkeeper deserves some credit as he has come out and held his hands up for the mistake and will be looking to quickly put it behind him. Some of the criticism has been unjust and over-the-top and he should still be starting in goal against Algeria on Friday. But Green can’t afford to make a mistake like that again and his performance is now going to be under immense scrutiny and he has to handle the pressure that will be on him.
1. The World Cup ball hasn’t been a disaster!
Despite Rob Green’s blunder the England ‘keeper declined to blame the ball for his error. The Jabulani has come under all kinds of criticism from players prior to the tournament with goalkeepers Gianluigi Buffon, Iker Casillas, Julio Cesar, David James and Joe Hart all slating the ball’s design and trajectory. However there haven’t been any signs so far of the ball causing any havoc and it all looks to be much a-do about nothing.
What did you learn from the opening weekend of the World Cup?