Thursday, 17 June 2010

Suddenly a draw doesn't seem so bad

So we've reached the end of the first set of games, each team has now played their first fixture, so here's a quick round-up of some of the results, starting with those teams that I predicted might struggle:

  • Netherlands 2-0 Denmark - Despite the win it sounded like the Dutch had their work cut out. Nothing spectacular
  • Portugal 0-0 Ivory Coast - A goalless draw, despite the obvious attacking talents that both teams possess. Only 1 shot on target each, but Ivory Coast managed more shots overall.
  • France 0-0 Uruguay - Even in terms of possession, but France were definitely the more attacking side with 18 overall shots to Uruguay's 6. Still, they couldn't find a way through, even against 10 men for the final 10 minutes.
  • Argentina 1-0 Nigeria - A narrow win. Diego's men looked good going forward (as expected) but were left exposed at the back. A better side would have scored a couple against the Argies.
On top of these there were also a couple of other shock results:
  • Italy 1-1 Paraguay - I expected at least a 2-goal win from the Italians here, but despite only hitting the target once, Paraguay pulled off a shock draw.
  • Spain 0-1 Switzerland - For all their possession (67%) and shots on goal (10 on target, 12 off target) the Spanish just couldn't find a way past the Swiss, their closest effort smashing against the woodwork.
I was tempted to add Brazil in here as well, but the only real shock about their encounter with North Korea was that they didn't come away with a more convincing win.

So all of the top 9 teams from the FIFA World Rankings have played and only 4 of them have recorded wins, 4 have drawn and 1 lost.

We look back at England's game against USA on Saturday, and suddenly a draw doesn't seem so bad. I think a lot of teams are a bit more cautious in their first game; nobody wants to lose their opening match, but going for the win could leave you open to counter-attacks (but try telling that to the Germans).

I'm still confident of 2 wins for England against Slovenia and Algeria, and at the same time I wouldn't be disappointed if a couple of the "big teams" going home early.

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