Saturday – June 19th, 2010
Netherlands vs. Japan review
In a game like this, you’d think it was clear cut, but as we’ve seen in this World Cup, there are no easy matches. A red card, a fluke goal, some smart and efficient play and all of a sudden you have an upset! Though the first half didn’t indicate an impending upset, it was more even than some expected. For the first 20 minutes, the Dutch had more possession, but it was limited to the midfield since they couldn’t find a connection to their attack. Off a good, solid defensive performance, Japan found it could risk more on the attack. Though they couldn’t create much danger, they did get to the box with more ease than the Dutch, with speed, quick touches and dribbles. The closest the Dutch came to a scoring chance was a free kick over the bar by Sneijder at the 9th minute and a weak shot by Van Der Wiel at the 46th, while Japan had a chance with a Matsui volley in the 37th. Netherlands came back for the second half much more determined and were finally able to get things going on the offense with chances by Sneijder, Van Persie and Kuyt. The different mentality paid off, and in the 53rd minute Sneijder let one loose out of the area that the keeper Kawashima couldn’t hold. The Japanese responded by going on the attack themselves, with an Okubo shot (58th minute) just over the goal. Japan continued to look for the tie, while the Dutch had chances to put the game away with the counter-attack (86th and 88th minute with Affelay). Japan had one last chance with Okazaki’s shot barely going over the bar at the 91st minute, but Netherlands held on. Another unconvincing win for the Dutch, nevertheless, a win just the same and a valiant effort by Japan as they almost came out with a point. Score: 1-0.
Ghana vs. Australia review
Both sides came into this game with a win in mind, if Ghana won it would put them atop the group, if Australia won it would level all four teams with three points. The game started even, with both sides having fair chances and right at the 11th minute we got our first score. Ghana keeper Kingson couldn’t hold a free kick shot by Australian Bresciano and Holman scored off the rebound. After the goal, Australia was much better set at defense than the previous game, making it difficult for Ghana to get close range shots, rather most were long bombs which missed their mark. As the 20th minute passed by, Ghana was starting to put a more consistent pressure on Australia with an unfortunate turn of events at the 25th. A hand ball by Kewell right at the goal line earned him a red card and gave Ghana a penalty kick, which Gyan converted successfully. Now with one more player, Ghana was able to find space and get shots off (Tagoe at the 27th, Gyan at 29th and Prince at 44th) but the half ended as a tie. The second half started with Ghana pressuring and Australia attempting to contain Ghana’s attack, and for the most part, they were successful. Most of Ghana’s shots were away from the area but at the 60th minute Gyan let one loose that Schwarzer had to defend. Meanwhile, the Australian counter-attack started working with a superb chance at the 66th minute with Chipperfield. Nearing the end, Ghana started dumping even more shots from the outside with little to no aim, Australia on the other hand had another got opportunity with Wilkshire and Kennedy (72nd minute), but both were defended by Kingson. Ghana stepped up the pressure even more at the end but Schwarzer and the defense held strong. Considering they were up one player for more than 60 minutes, the result is a failure for Ghana, while for Australia it was a much better performance than their game with Germany and it keeps them alive. Score: 1-1.
Cameroon vs. Denmark review
If you watched any of the previous games from these teams, well, this one was the complete opposite. In the first half, Cameroon was able to attack, with efficient passing and speed, while Denmark’s defense was faltering. Cameroon’s Eto’o had the first chance of the game at the 6th minute when his shot went wide right, Denmark’s Rommedhal responded two minutes later with his shot over the bar. Eto’o got one more chance just minutes after with a fairly easy shot (10th minute) off a Denmark turnover near the box, and this one he didn’t miss. Denmark’s defense, at that point, seemed a bit lost and it nearly cost them again when Emana’s shot went just wide at the 14th. The Danish had a string of dangerous attacks as well with a Gronkjaer shot that went wide (18th minute) and a Tomasson touch that was blocked by keeper Souleymanou (21st minute). The equalizer came only at the 35th minute when Rommedhal crossed into the box to a sliding Bendter that beat the keeper. After that, the game completely opened up with both defenses failing and both trading attacks, having amazing scoring chances within seconds of each other! It was a very entertaining half, and with both still looking for the win, more was to be expected in the second. The second half started a bit more tame, with both looking to correct their defensive woes, and the shots brought no danger. Despite the efforts, the game was still open though and on the 61st minute Cameroon’s Webo hit the target, but Sorensen saved. Denmark unleashed a counter attack on the next possession and Rommedahl cut inside and sent a curling shot on the left corner for the goal. Now with the lead, Denmark stayed even more back, while looking for the counter-attack, meanwhile, Cameroon went all-out attack since they were facing elimination. With the game now open even more, the Danish missed out on chances to close the game out ( Tomasson at the 72nd), and Cameroon pressed on with chances by Webo at the 65th, Makoun at the 67th, Song at the 74th, Emana at the 77th and 78th. Nearing the end, Cameroon continued searching for a goal with a superb chance at the 83rd minute with a deflected Aboukabar shot, but Denmark held on. With the result, Denmark faces Japan in an elimination game while Cameroon is already eliminated. Score: 1-2.
Sunday – June 20th, 2010 Preview
Slovakia vs. Paraguay (7:30 AM EST.)
Slovakia had a great chance to get three points against a weak opponent and let it slip by in the last minute. It was their chance to make some noise in this group since it will only get more difficult from now on. Paraguay will be too much for them to handle. Prediction: Paraguay win.
Italy vs. New Zealand (10 AM EST.)
New Zealand stole a point in heroic and historic fashion, however the Italians are the heavy favorites and will be too much for the New Zealand defense to contain. Prediction: Italy win.
Brazil vs. Ivory Coast (2:30 PM EST.)
I wasn’t all too impressed with how Brazil played, nor was I impressed with Ivory Coast either. The Ivorians could have Drogba back in the starting lineup and Brazil will face a much better opponent, tactically and physically. Prediction: Tie.