Thursday, 1 July 2010

Preview of 1/4 finals

So after 2 days of no football its back to the world cup and for the teams left its begins here so to speak

Uruguay v Ghana

Both of these teams were unfancied to get out of their groups let alone qualify for the semi finals but now, for one of these teams at least, this will be a reality with a chance to play either Holland or Brazil in a World Cup semi final. Uruguay struggled to qualify for the main tournament but have looked excellent since their slow start in the first game, drawing 0-0 with France. Since then they have convincingly swept South Africa, Mexico and South Korea aside, showing both attacking flair in the form of Luis Suarez as well as a rock solid defence marshaled by Diego Lugano but the key player so far has easily been Diego Forlan who has an incredible attacking presence but also has an amazing work rate and ethic, he's an excellent outlet for the defenders to hoof the ball to him to hold up and relieve pressure on other players, a job he's been doing excellently at so far. The most unheralded of the attacking triumvirate is Edinson Cavani who hasn't scored and hasn't been classed as a key player but still performs a key role in linking the attacking play with the midfielders as well as supporting Forlan whilst Suarez looks for space between the center backs to run through. Ghana will have to keep their wits about them to make sure these 3 don't start causing all sorts of chaos in the back line.

The Ghanaians shouldn't be under estimated though, as the Americans learnt the hard way in the last round. Like all the African teams their main strength is their work rate and attitude with the tireless midfield running endlessly to win the ball and this has been personfied by Andre Ayew's performence in the 1/4 finals although he is suspended for this game which will be a big miss. Sully Muntari is expected to be involved instead and although he is a very good player he's not as defensivly minded as Ayew he can still do a job. The other choice would be Stephen Appiah although his lack of match fitness could be a problem as he's only played a handful of games over the last 2 years due to injuries and not having a club. They will also need Asomoah Gyan to be on top form, taking any chances that come his way as i get the feeling they may be few and far between.

This should be a very lively match if not the highest scoring we've seen in this World Cup. I'd expect the Uruguyans to win the game, 2-1 would seem a likely score but a draw with the dreaded penalty shoot out could be a very real option. Either way i expect Uruguay to advance to the semi finals

Holland v Brazil

Expectations here appear to be a classic game but i really don't think it will be, i fully expect Holland to struggle with the only real attacking threat they have, Arjen Robben, more than likely being man marked by someone like Felipe Melo or Gilberto Silva and more than likely taking sneaky kicks at him trying to limit his impact on the game. Maicon of course will be a key attacking outlet especially running at the aging full back Giovanni van Bronckhorst so expect the Dutch to 'double up' on their left side with Kuyt trying to offer extra cover. Obviously the key battle will be between the attacking midfielders, Kaka & Sneijder and who can unlock the opposition defence first. Neither have especailly caught fire in the tournament so now is the time to step up although both have been improving the further in the torunament has gone, although clearly both players will be tightly watched, Kaka by Van Bommel & Sneijder by Melo & Gilberto Silva.

It'll also going to be interesting to see if the alleged splits in the Holland camp cause any problems, Van Persie had a go at his coach after being subbed in the last game, claiming that Sneijder should have been subbed instead. The Dutch spin machine quickly whirred into action claiming everything was fine and Van Persie was just offering advise to the coach and that there is no problem in the squad but we shall see. It will also be interesting to see if any of the players on yellow cards (Melo, Kaka, Van Bommel, Sneijder) throttle back their games to avoid missing the semi's but we shall see. People are expecting total football v samba style but neither of these teams play like this anymore, i expect it to be a physical and tough game with maybe a moment of individual skill to break the deadlock, i'm going with a 2-0 win to Brazil because they just look well organsied and hard working at the moment

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