Before we get to talk about Brazil’s debut against North Korea let’s have a quick review on what I saw these past few days from Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay in their first matches in the 2010 FIFAWorld Cup.
Let’s also not forget that there’s still another South American side to play their opening match. Chile will debut tomorrow against Honduras and I’ll talk a little bit about that too.
In short I can say that so far the results have been pretty good for the South Americans. Nothing extremely out of the ordinary but Argentina and Brazil did their job and Paraguay and Uruguay came out of their matches with important ties considering that they played against the current champions and vice-champions of the world respectively.
So let’s review those matches, shall we?
Uruguay 0-0 France
Uruguay’s defensive strategy held a France with no composure.
Forlán showed why he’s the heart of the Uruguayan team as he created the few La Celeste’s goal opportunities in a match that actually bored the hell out of me (and everyone else probably).
Nevertheless it was a considerably good result for Uruguay. Manager Oscar Tabarez seemed satisfied with it. And I’ll say that defensively Uruguay looked very good specially with Diego Godin. He saved the team when captain Diego Lugano made some mistakes that could have been costly.
Let’s just hope Uruguay can now relax a little bit and play a different style – one that’s more pleasant for us viewers – in their next match on tomorrow, June 16 against South Africa.
Argentina 1-0 Nigeria
Not the show we expected but the result is all that matters.
Lionel Messi tried, and tried, and tried, but Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama denied the best player of the world in at least three opportunities. Defender Gabriel Heinze was the man who gave the Argies the 1-0 advantage at the 6th minute and even though Maradona’s boys controlled most of the game, Nigeria had a few chances that exposed Argentina’s vulnerabilities.
The quality of Argentina’s mid and front lines with Messi, Milito, Higuain, Tevez, Aguero, Maxi Rodriguez, Veron, Jonas Gutierrez is unquestionable. When in possession of the ball these players can cause a lot of damage to any team’s defense, but problems appeared when Nigeria had the ball. Some gaps behind the wings and a lack of organization in defending as a group, that’s when we could clearly see that a more tactically experienced coach was needed for the amazing squad.
Hey, but Mr. Maradona looked good in his suit, didn’t he?
The win was important in terms of group standings and I’m sure that after the normal tension of the first match I believe we’ll be able to see Messi & friends produce the type of football we all want to see.
Paraguay 1-1 Italy
Paraguay came to the match against world champions Italy knowing that a tie would be a great result, a win would be spectacular but a loss could get them in trouble in terms of moving on to the next stage of the World Cup.
The rain came down hard in Cape Town as both teams struggled to create good opportunities until Antolin Alcaraz got the end of a perfect cross and headed, also with perfection, leaving no chances for Buffon. However, Italy did find the equalizer in the second half after a mistake from goalkeeper Justo Villar.
What’s important about this match, more than the result itself, is to see that the Paraguayans are okay. They’re psychologically strong and united. They may have shown lack of creativity and talent on the field but we could feel that they are truly inspired and committed to take the team as far they can in honor of their teammate and friend Salvador Cabañas.
Brazil 2-1 North Korea
North Korea placed as many players as they could behind the ball. If Kim Jong-Il could he would have stepped onto the field just to be that extra man on defense.
It was not easy for Brazil to break North Korea’s barricades and I must confess that even though we saw some flair and a little bit of magic from Robinho I almost snoozed by the end of the first half.
Then North Korea made the big mistake of feeling a little too comfortable due to the goalless first 45 minutes and it became just a matter of time until Brazil transformed magic and flair into goals.
You may now disagree with me but I’ll tell you that if Maicon says that he meant to blast that ball to goal from such a tight angle I’ll believe him. I’ve watched the Inter Milan full back do that same play more often than not for all clubs he played and for the national team.
The second goal came from Elano, who celebrated his birthday yesterday and had a played a great match today. Very deserved goal from a player who seldom gets the credit he should.
North Korea got a goal at the last minute of regulation and that’s just everything they dreamed of: getting a goal against Brazil.
I would have loved to see Brazil transform their opportunities into goals but just the way they kept their patience, controlled their face and showed composure can be a vindication of their condition as a favorites for the tittle.
Further reading: Brazil 2-1 North Korea: Match Report
Honduras vs Chile (preview)
Chile will debut against Honduras tomorrow and it seems that Humberto Suazo will be available for manager Marcelo Bielsa. The striker has been cleared by the medical staff and now it’s up to Bielsa to start him against Los Catrachos or not. With or without Humberto Suazo I still believe Chile has good chances to beat Honduras and take a big step in securing the second place in group H as Spain are the favorites to finish on top of the group.
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