The second week of the World Cup seems have to greatly picked up after a slow and disappointing start to the tournament, but what was noticeable about this weekend’s action? Here are the Top 10 things we learnt:
10. The Slovenian goalkeeper is a coward
When Landon Donovan’s rocket early in the second half of USA’s game against Slovenia hit the back of the net, one couldn’t help but notice Slovenia’s ‘keeper move out of the way rather than make a save. What is surprising is that the goalkeeper is Samir Handanovic who plays for Udinese and is regarded as a good goalkeeper in Italy. He is probably the side’s most high profile player and to see him bottling a save doesn’t fill you with a lot of confidence about Slovenia’s chances.
9. Dennis Rommedahl is actually a good player!
Fans of Charlton Athletic including myself will be scratching their heads wondering, why couldn’t Dennis Rommedahl show that kind of form at Charlton on a regular basis? The Danish midfielder looked inspired during Denmark’s 2-1 victory over Cameroon. His blistering pace caused the Cameroon defence all kinds of problems down the right hand side managing to put in a cross for Nicolas Bendtner to score and cancel out Samuel Eto’o’ s opener. Then he in the second half he went on to a score the winner for his side by twisting and turning his way through the defence before placing a nicely curled shot into the back of the net.
8. Holland look efficient
Although they didn’t look spectacular in their game against Japan they got the result at the end of it, much like in their game with Denmark. As of writing they are the only side along with Brazil and Argentina to have won their two opening games, and they have made the best start out of all the sides in Europe. The fact that they haven’t blown anyone away yet but possess so much talent is scary thought for other sides and they will surely be a force to be reckoned with in the knockout stages.
7. Ghana know how to celebrate
After coolly slotting away a penalty for Ghana, Asamoah Gyan and his team mates all proceeded to break into a wonderfully choreographed celebration that has got to be the best one of the tournament so far!
6. Luis Fabiano knows how to score a good goal or two
Brazil striker Luis Fabiano finally opened his World Cup account by scoring two well taken goals against the Ivory Coast yesterday. His first was a powerful shot smashed into the back the net after a lovely passing team move. The second goal he scored was a sublime finish reminiscent of Paul Gascoigne’s goal for England against Scotland in Euro 96. It was perhaps the best goal of the tournament so far but the claim will be spoilt because of a debateable hand ball by Fabiano.
5. Italy flatter to deceive
Their opening game draw against Paraguay was a disappointing one and many expected the Italians to pick themselves up against New Zealand. A side which contained only one player with top flight experience in captain Ryan Nelson, and with some players also playing the game on a part-time basis surely they wouldn’t be able to handle the mighty Azzurri? However the All Whites were able to do just that and even managed to take the lead, despite Italy gaining a deserved equaliser they weren’t able to break New Zealand down despite their supposed superiority. Italy looked like they were lacking a spark and have a few players who aren’t good enough to be in their starting XI and their striking options are mediocre.
4. The Ivory Coast are dirty!
The Ivorians totally seemed to lose the plot towards the end of their game against Brazil. Firstly they went in for a crunching tackle on Elano over the top of the ball which could have been a debateable red card. A definite red card should have been given for an awful challenge on Michel Bastos where the ball was completely missed by the tackling Ivory Coast player. Then striker Kader Keita decided to treat us all to some first class acting by running into Kaka’s shoulder and then falling to the floor holding his face. This disgraceful act then got the Brazilian sent off for a second bookable offence and is all the more stupid because Ivory Coast could be relying on Brazil to beat Portugal for them to qualify.
3. After some great refereeing the standards seem to have dropped
During the first week of the World Cup the refereeing performances were first class with almost all of the games allowed to flow properly and the correct decisions being given in every incident, however this weekend has seemed to see the standards drop immensely. Firstly in the USA’s game against Slovakia a perfectly good winning goal by America’s Maurice Edu was ruled out for no clear reason and in fact during the goal several USA players were being held by the Slovaks in the area. In the Italy v New Zealand game the ref seemed to go from one extreme to the next. Firstly he favoured New Zealand when they were flinging elbows left, right and centre then he favoured Italy every time contact was made with one of their players. In the Brazil v Ivory Costa match the referee decided to send off Kaka despite not even seeing what happened and merely guessing what had taken place.
2. England still disappoint when it matters
Not being able to beat inferior opposition with a vastly superior side is a story that has become all too familiar for England. Somehow England couldn’t qualify for Euro 2008 from an easy group and now they look to be in danger of failing to qualify for the next round from their World Cup group two years later. England looked lacklustre against Algeria and in a game England should have been dominating it was even contest, which is reflected by the stats which show that the possession was 53% in England’s favour and that England had 14 shots compared to Algeria’s 13. This very disappointing result didn’t please too many England fans which brings me on to……
1. Wayne Rooney doesn’t like to be booed
Turing to a camera after the Algeria match Wayne Rooney uttered the words: “Nice to see your home fans boo you, that’s what loyal support is.” However England more than deserved to be booed for their terrible performance and although it can be argued that it doesn’t help the team and is counter-productive the fans that have paid good money to travel to South Africa deserve better than that.
What did you notice from the second weekend of the World Cup?