Soccer Night In South Africa: Champs or Chumps

The second weekend of the 2010 World Cup ended with one team advancing to the knockout stage and one group not clarifying anything. And in that wide open group is our defending World Cup champions who aren’t living up to their billing as threats to repeat.

Slovakia 0 vs. Paraguay 2 – Coming off a tie with the Italians, you knew that Paraguay would be a tough match for the underdog Slovakians. It looks like La Albirroja are more than a match for the whole of Group F. They started the game on the attack and finished the same way as they dominated Slovakia. After a few early chances, Paraguay broke through in the 27th minute. Paulo Da Silva found Enrique Vera inside the box who chipped the ball up and over the keeper for the opening goal. La Albirroja would go another 59 minutes before notching their second marker. Cristian Riveros rifled home a loose ball from about 20 yards out to give Paraguay the win and some help with goal differential.

Italy 1 vs. New Zealand 1 – With all the panic in France over the state of their national team, you kinda wonder what the state of Italy is. Two goals in as many game means that the defending World Cup champions are at risk of being eliminated in the group stages. It was the All Whites that found the scoreboard first. In the 7th minute, Simon Elliot’s free kick took a friendly deflection off Fabio Cannavaro’s hand into the path of Shane Smeltz who just tapped the ball home. The Italians would answer back into the 28th minute. Daniele De Rossi dove in the box to draw a penalty and Vincenzo Iaquinta converted to tie the game. Italy would keep pressing for the win but the game ended a 1-all draw. The All Whites deserved the three points all things considered but when the Azzurri training regimen for the World Cup involves acting classes, they are a tough foe to overcome.

Brazil 3 vs. Ivory Coast 1 – Goals were plentiful in this game. It started in the 25th minute when Luis Fabiano played a give-and-go with Kaka that ended with Fabiano driving the ball top corner over the keeper. In the 50th minute, Fabiano put together a superb individual effort past four Ivory Coast defenders to score his second of the game. Just 12 minutes later, Kaka played a beautiful cross into Elano who tapped home the easy marker. The Ivory Coast would get one back in the 79th minute. Yaya Toure lobbed the ball into the box and captain Didier Drogba headed home his first foal of the tournament. That ended the game except for Kaka getting a red card in the 88th minute for two bookings on the game. As a result, he’ll miss Brazil’s final group stage match, though it likely will be a meaningless game. After this result, one would have to imagine that the Ivory Coast will need some luck to make the knockout stages. It wouldn’t be too much to ask of North Korea if I requested that they held Portugal to a one-goal victory or less.

Man of the Day: Luis Fabiano (Brazil) – 2 goals

Group F Standings
1. Paraguay 1-1-0, 4 Pts.
2. New Zealand 0-2-0, 2 Pts.
3. Italy 0-2-0, 2 Pts.
4. Slovakia 0-1-1, 1 Pts.

Group G Standings
1. Brazil 2-0-0, 6 Pts.
2. Portugal 0-1-0, 1 Pts.
3. Ivory Coast 0-1-1, 1 Pts.
4. North Korea 0-0-1, 0 Pts.

Monday’s Schedule:
Group G: Portugal (0-1-0) vs. North Korea (0-0-1)
Group H: Chile (1-0-0) vs. Switzerland (1-0-0)
Group H: Spain (0-0-1) vs. Honduras (0-0-1)


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