Monday, 14 June 2010

Day 2 (written slightly later....)

Day 2's round up of the games, and where better to start that with my tip for the World Cup.....

Argentina V Nigeria

An interesting game, although Maradona seems to have decided on his starting XI the tactical side of things still seems to be open, he was expected to play an attacking 3-4-3 the way the team lined up was slightly strange with Gutierrez starting out of position as a right back and Tevez more out on the right wing than was expected. They looked very rigid in this formation although Messi seemed to thrive in his role behind Higuain, picking up the ball in dangerous areas between the Nigerian defence and midfield and running with relish at the Nigerian defence and he was unlucky not to score having 6 goals on target and forcing 4 excellent saves from Vincent Enyeama. Clearly this is one game into the tournament but if his form carries on like this he will clearly pose a massive threat to anyone and Maradona's idea of running most of the attacks through him could be the best idea Diego has come up with.

The Nigerians managed to contain Argentina very well limiting them to one goal and creating a few chances themselves, although they didn't seem capable of putting the ball in the back of the net and as the game developed the feeling seemed to be when, not if, the Argentinians would score next - this didn't come of course (i tipped a 3-0 win) but i got the feeling that if they needed an extra goal they could have got it. The biggest problem for Maradona is what to do with Tevez, although his usual work rate was there he seemed to drift in from the right leaving Gutierrez with much more responsibility both going forward and covering back, it wouldn't surprise me to see Otamendi coming back and Tevez being dropped allowing Gutierrez to move into his more natural role as a right midfielder but no one can predict what Maradona will do (special thanks to 5 Live for the min by min update on what he was doing all game, clearly a key factor...)

Star Man - Lionel Messi (Argentina)

South Korea v Greece

Its not easy to forget either of these teams recent outstanding moment, with South Korea getting to the semi finals of World Cup 2002 & Greece winning 2004, unfortunately since then Greece have slipped backwards and despite the fact they finished top of there qualifying group they looked disorganised and didn't really pose a threat to the Koreans. South Korea looked there usual organised self's and worked very hard, most of there players covering a lot of the pitch whilst keeping a very disciplined shape and pressing the Greek players well. I must admit that i thought the organisation of the Greeks would be a key factor but they seemed out of shape and lost when compared to the South Koreans.

Both goals came 7 min into each half, the first scored by Lee Jung Soo in the 7th min of the first half and Park Ji-Sung in the 52 min pretty much killing the game off at that point, the Greeks didn't roll over but they just couldn't get back in to the game after that. South Korea could well pose a tough obstacle for Argentina and will be a good early test to see how Maradona responds to an organised disciplined side, i think he may well struggle to over come them

Star Man - Park Ji-Sung (South Korea)'s one game left from Saturday.....

USA v England

What an excellent start it was for England, a brilliant touch on by Heskey lead to a Steven Gerrard goal and every thing started looking good for the English - but you knew it was to good to be true. The starting XI concerned me, 4-4-2 with Gerrard & Lampard in the center that is proven not to work - Frank Lampard seemed to be a more withdrawn deeper player than we're used to seeing and had echos of the 2006 World Cup with his long hopeful shots and lack of attacking runs. I was also surprised to see James Milner starting on the left having missed training for 3 days but i can understand that his more work man like style was preferred over the attacking flair of Joe Cole, although i could understand this to begin with however once Milner was injured i was a little surprised to see SWP come on and Lennon switch to the left where he is much more subdued.

Around the half hour mark England would have been pleased with their performance, knocking the ball around well although not keeping possession as well as they might have liked but still created a few good chances until the dreaded moment came. Clint Dempsey 'unleashed' a tame 25 yards or so shot that just headed harmlessly towards Rob Green - until he somehow spilled it in to his own net. This clearly shell shocked the England players and for the last 5 mins of the half and at half time they needed something to help them out, but this didn't happen. The closest we saw to inspiration was the sight of Jamie Carragher replacing Ledley King (who is now set to miss the rest of the World Cup) and i for one felt my heart sink, him, Green & Terry was just a disaster waiting to happen. At this point what England needed, and it pains me to say this, was a Jose Mourinho type character in the dressing room, someone to make that clever tactical switch & to help fire the players up again and recover from such a clanger of a goal but this didn't happen. The best chance in the 2nd half fell to *cue loud groans* Emile Heskey who was 1 v 1 with Tim Howard and just hoofed it straight at the American keeper. They game basically died out after this, and although both sides had chances they seemed pretty happy with a draw - well, the USA did anyway judging by their reactions in the media, on the pitch and with the fans

Star Man - Tim Howard (USA)

Bad news for England is Ledley King has damaged an Abductor muscle and could be out for around 3 weeks. Many of the media have criticised Capello for taking him but i still think it was the right decision, this injury isn't related to his knees so it's not one Fabio could have foreseen - the worst news is that Jamie Carragher won't shut up about being given a chance. I for one don't think he should really be in the squad, he reminds me of Totti, happy to play in the major tournaments but won't put in the hard graft for the qualifiers, but when you look at the cover in defence it is very thin - Dawson has no experience and both Upson and Carragher don't look the role.
The other massive problem is, of course, in goal. I've said for months that Rob Green is not an international goalkeeper and this spill proved it, before the game he looked very nervous in the tunnel and after that spill you could see his confidence draining away by the minute, proved by his almost 2nd howler in the 65th min which he somehow diverted on to the bar and prompted ITV's 'experts' to declare it a great save - a few replays later showed it was a regulation save that he made a hash of. I think Joe Hart should be in goal for the next game, blooding him in for the bigger games but i think Capello will revert to the tried and tested David James, he is also error prone but won't be nervous and won't make howlers like that in this sort of tournament, well you'd hope anyway!!
This has to be the end for Rob Green, and yes England can't keep dropping keepers because of one clanger but Green has never been a top class keeper (that's why he's never played for a top team and they've never been near him). Joe Hart should have been given more experience earlier on so that we can have a young keeper picking up big game experience because when James retires & Green rides off into the sunset we're looking a bit thin in this area.....

That's it for today, tomorrow i will post round ups of day 3 & 4 and hopefully catch back up to were we are in the World Cup

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thanks for reading!!

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