It's all in your World Cup

Monday, June 12, 2006

Day the third

Holland - Serbia & Montenegro 1-0

The first of two ultimately disappointing 1-0 wins today. The Dutch were helped enormously by a static S&M midfield in the first half, only galvanised into action by the introduction of Koroman just before half time. Robben's goal was an excellent finish, but couldn't entirely disguise the fact that neither of the nominally central strikers the Dutch tried, Van Nistelrooy or Kuyt, presented much threat. Every tournament the ghost of total football is summoned back from the graveyard of lo-fi 70s tv clips, but this Dutch team suggested none of the elegance and flexibility of that team - Van Persie was wasted playing wide on the right, he seems easily the most natural replacement the Dutch have for Bergkamp, but as free as he was to switch wings with Robben, he would do more damage linking play between midfield and attack.

Mexico - Iran 3-1

Before the start of this match I was speculating with a friend over whether it would be unexpectedly entertaining - every world cup throws up a couple of games that sound crap on the schedule but transcend preconceptions and prove to be highly enjoyable. Mexico were very well drilled, and scored an excellent goal from a set piece. They had plenty of pace, and in Zinha, a player introduced at half time to complement the excellent Marquez further up the field, they had real ingenuity and vision. That's not to say that I expect the Mexicans to be competing much beyond the first knockout stage, but they will give whoever the play a hard game, and certainly wont roll over and die. Iran showed moments of vision and flair, but as with so many teams of players plying their trade in the lesser European divisions, it's the lack of a real finisher that prevents them from fully competing.

Portugal - Angola 1-0

There was to be no repeat of the Sweden - T&T shennanigans, well except in that it was a game largely devoid of interesting moments.

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