We’re five days into the universe’s biggest sports event and that means there has been plenty of stuff to talk about. Unfortunately, I spent all weekend moving to St. Louis so I haven’t had time to write here. Instead of going through each team that has already played, I’m going to try and hit the highlights and low lights from the first few days.
The first thing I feel like I have to mention is the presence of the vuvuzelas in the stands that people all seem to hate. Honestly, I don’t even notice them. I want someone to bring me one so if you’re reading this and can get one of these horns to me, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyway, the biggest thing about this tournament so far is the lack of upsets. The biggest one so far for me was Japan’s victory over Cameroon. I realize that superpowers England, Italy, and France tied their opening matches, but those were hardly upsets. Past World Cups have taught us to expect the unexpected (USA vs. Colombia 1994, France vs. Senegal in 2002, Ghana vs. Czech Republic in 2006, etc). Perhaps the biggest story was North Korea’s ability to not be slaughtered by Brazil this afternoon. I’m still waiting on that one massive upset that gets everyone talking. Maybe we’ll get it tomorrow with Switzerland-Spain…
There has also been a lack of spectacular goals. Four years ago, the very first goal of the tournament was great and it seemed like every goal after that was just as good. Other than maybe Siphiwe Tshabalala’s goal for South Africa and Gabriel Heinze’s diving header for Argentina, all the goals have been rather pedestrian. There have been no free kicks, no amazing volleys or individual runs to speak of thus far. Goal scoring as a whole has been down this tournament. Hopefully that can be attributed to teams being wary in their first game and they’ll be more apt to attack in the second and third match.
The three teams who have impressed me the most so far are Germany, South Korea, and the Netherlands. The Germans dismantled a decent Australian side 4-0 which might just be a signal of intent for the rest of the tournament. The Koreans also took care of the Greeks 2-0, which surprised me. They played exceptionally well so we’ll see if they can keep it up against Argentina on Thursday. The Netherlands easily dispatched a Danish squad that I think is very good. This Netherlands team is going to win the World Cup.
On the opposite end of the spectrum we have Brazil, Cameroon, and anyone involved in the Uruguay-France slogfest. Brazil makes this list because they only scored two goals on lowly North Korea and even gave up a late one. Just terrible. The Cameroonians just didn’t show up against Japan in their 1-0 loss. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one disappointed in their performance. As far as that last game goes, it was just a horrific excuse for a soccer match. I won’t go out of my way to watch the Uruguayans again, that’s for sure.
The last thing I’ll mention is the terrible goals that have been scored. We all know of Robert Green’s fiasco that allowed the Americans to tie the game at one, but at least his blunder didn’t cost his team the game like Algerian keeper Faouzi Chaouchi’s did against Slovenia. Hopefully the great goals will start overshadowing the terrible ones soon.