So, the World Cup is finally underway!! my plan to write up a review of all the groups fell slightly short, mainly due to time issues, so instead I'm going to do a review of all the games from day one until the end of the tournament as well as some quick predictions for the next set of games.
South Africa v Mexico
Not a bad game to open the tournament with, i personally predicted a 2-1 win to Mexico here and based on the first half performance i was quietly confident however 10 min in to the second half Siphiwe Tshabalala unleashed a thunderbolt of a shot leaving the Mexican keeper Oscar Perez stranded with nothing to do but pick the ball out of the net. This was a bit of a surprise as in the first half Mexico were pretty dominate, Giovani dos Santos looking especially lively with a few good runs and even having a scoring chance inside the first 2 min when South Africa's goalkeeper Khune flapped at a cross, pushing it in to path of Giovani who let rip with a terrific shot but was well blocked by Mokoena and again after 4 min Givani had another chance but chose to cross instead of shooting from an inviting angle. The first half then turned into a very back and forth affair, although Mexico enjoyed more of the possession South Africa were very good on the counter attack, Mexico had a goal disallowed after 36 min for a correct offside decision and after 40 min Franco showed why West Ham were right to release him with a terrible miss from 12 yards.
At half time the two teams seemed pretty even with South Africa looking dangerous on the counter although not able to get the ball to Mphela quickly enough and Mexico having a fair amount of possession but not able to capitalise. At half time Pareira took the left back Thwala off and bought on Masilela to try and tighten up the defence.
The 2nd half started off very much as the 1st half finished with Mexico playing a quick passing game and the South Africans chasing them until the 55 min and a stonking goal from Siphiwe Tshabalala which really bought the already rocking stadium to life (those bloody vuvuzelas are even more annoying than i'd read about) and for the next 15 min Mexico looked like they'd been knocked out of their rhythm but their was a feeling about the stadium that Mexico could still snatch an equilizer and they did this in the 78 min, a corner nicely whipped in by Guardado (who should have started in my opinion) leaving 1 South African defender against 3 Mexicans and Rafael Marquez slammed the ball home from 7 yards. On 90 min the South Africans hit the post with Mphela 1 on 1 and that was the end to a very exciting opening game, more exciting than i expected it to be - i still think Mexico will sneak through Group A with Uruguay on top and i think South Africa will finish 3rd and quite possibly sneak a 1-0 against France
Star Player - Siphiwe Tshabalala (South Africa) Giovani dos Santos (Mexico)
France v Uruguay
Sadly this game didn't have the excitement of the 1st game but did show a few interesting things, the first being that the pre-tournament predictions about France don't seem to be to wide of the mark, despite having a player of the quality of Franck Ribery seems to be lacking ideas in the final 3rd with the closest chance in the game falling to Sidney Govou who managed to miss from around 6 yards but that was about the only clear cut chance France had. Domenech has decided at the last minute to abandon the 4-2-3-1 formation he has used in pretty much every game for the last few years and go for a more traditional 4-3-3 however his team selection was a little odd, especially not picking Malouda & opting instead for Govou who seems to have his best years behind him. The game its self wasn't really filled with much action, both teams had a few chances, Diego Suarez should have scored from a Forlan free kick but missed the chance to flick the ball in with his head - Forlan was easily the Uruguayans best player making a nuisance of himself and holding the ball up very well however his final ball let him down on a couple of occasions.
The game its self wasn't overly exciting, there were a few chances to either side but nothing that would be defined as clear cut other than the Govou chance, the main talking point would be Evra lucky to stay on the pitch for a tackle that should have probably got him a second yellow card and Lodiero's appearance as a substitute that lasted all of 20 min, he picked up a 1st yellow moments after coming on for kicking the ball away (which i thought was harsh, he kicked the ball back to the general direction of the free kick) but his second yellow could easily have been a straight red for a horrible tackle on Backery Sagna, the tackle its self was late and quite dangerous. So for all the expectations i had of this very talented player he will now sit out the second round game against South Africa and should thank his lucky stars the ref didn't give him a straight red anyway which would have triggered a 3 match ban. A special mention should go to Henry who had the audacity to appeal for a penalty from a free kick in the last few mins, trying to claim hand ball (the cheek after the playoffs!!) from what was an excellent headed clearance.
Star Players - Diego Forlan (Uruguay) Hugo Lloris (France)
My predictions for today's game? South Korea should defeat Greece although it will be a close game as both teams are well organised but lack any out and out quality goal scorers i think South Korea could sneak this one 1-0.
Argentina should beat Nigeria although the Nigerians could provide a scare i think the overall attacking threat of Argentina will be too much and i predict a 3-1 win for Argentina.
The final game is the big one today, USA v England - a lot has been said about the team Capello could pick, if he goes 4-4-2 with Gerard and Lampard in the middle i think the US will fancy there chances to expose the lack of defensive qualities in the center but the defence should be able to hold out, i think the English should win 2-0
That's it folks, hope you've enjoyed this and as usual if you want to leave any feedback you can do it below if your part of google, or you can find me on twitter (Buster_5265) or at hotmail (Buster_5265@hotmail.com) or on my new facebook group - Football fan!!