Wednesday 23 June 2010

World Cup thoughts - Day 13

England 1 Slovenia 0

We did it!

We beat Slovenia to make it to the next round - What a relief!

I took the day off from work to make sure that I could watch this game, and I know I made the right decision, although I have to say it was emotionally draining to watch.

In saying that England deserved to win, and should have won by more than one goal as we had a number of chances.

This was what I would call a 'proper' performance from England! You have to accept that England will never pass and move the ball in the way that the Spanish or Argentinians will, but we played to our own strengths.

We played at a high tempo, direct, quick, and accurate passing game. I enjoyed watching it as it made a great contrast to the way that teams such as Spain play the game.

It's amazing to think that I feel so relieved just to get out of the group stage! Reaching the second round now seems like an achievement in itself, but this is where the competition really gets going.

Because of Landon Donovan's last gasp winner for the USA against Algeria, we've now ended up finishing second in the group, which means a familiar old foe in the next round.
Germany in the next round

So it's Germany in round two. There's no doubting that England face what on paper appears to be a harder route to the final, but I don't think this is a bad thing.

If we played Ghana in the second round there would be this huge expectation for England to beat them.

By playing Germany there won't be the same level of expectancy and I think it could work in England's favour. Playing Germany will automatically raise England's game.

Germany look a decent side but there's nothing for England to fear, so I'm looking forward to a really good game and England have a very realistic chance of beating them.

Day 12

South Africa 2 France 1

Great result for South Africa, at one stage it was looking like they might pull off the miracle and make it to the second round, but unfortunately it wasn't to be.

As for the French - total humiliation! I said last week, there's something absolutely rotten at the heart of the French squad. Many of the problems begin with the manager Raymond Domenech.

You also have to look at the French football federation. There were problems in the last World Cup between Domenech and the players. From all accounts it was senior players like Zindane and Lillian Thuram who seemed to inspire and take control of things and drag France into the World Cup final.

For some reason the French decided to stick with Domenech throughout the Euro 2008 campaign and the World Cup qualifiers.

They've only got themselves to blame for this debacle. In future, if any country wants a text book guide on how not to run a World Cup campaign, they need only to look at this French team of 2010.

Uruguay 1 Mexico 0

I've been impressed with Uruguay, I think I may adopt them as my second favourite team now. They played good football and Diego Forlan has been at the heart of everything.

They could, and there's still a very long way to go, be potential quarter final opponents for England, should England get to that stage!

Argentina 2 Greece 0

I was really looking forward to this game, and had £3 on Argentina to win 3-0 at 10/1. The game turned out to be dreadful, but that wasn't Argentina's fault, they tried to play football, it was all the fault of the Greeks

There was grudging respect for Greece when they won Euro 2004, but their football is still 'anti football'. It's horrible to watch.

They were trying to play for a draw which could have taken them into the next round, but what football fan would seriously want to see Greece progress?

I watched the game thinking, they're like a monster from a horror movie that can't quite be killed off, like a vampire!

They needed a stake through the heart, which finally came in the form of two goals late on in the second half.

Great to see the veteran Martin Palermo come off the bench and score the second. This is great story. First World Cup at the age of 36!

Hadn't played international football for 10 years, until Maradona recalled him, and he scored a crucial last gasp winner against Peru in the qualifiers to help Argentina get to these finals!

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