Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Staying Alive.

Day 5 done. 5 goals on day 5. Not quite a glut of goals but still a bit more action than we've seen. Seems like there is an Italia 90 feel to this tournament so far. Plenty of conservative coaches. New Zealand faired well and did themselves proud. Slovakia will be kicking themselves for not making the most of this but saying that the Kiwis set themselves up well.

The Ivory Coast have to play Brazil next but I don't think they'll be too displeased with a point. Better than the start they had in Germany. Portugal will play North Korea and after today's performance it won't be plain sailing. Brazil laboured to victory but with some genuine creativity down the middle from Robinho and a slightly fortuitous goal from Maicon they got home in the end. Kim Jong Il will be proud of the organisation of his army influenced side. Prank suggested the Koreans lives depended on their performances. I think the 'Dear One' will be quite pleased.

Nonetheless, Day 6 awaits us and this is the first chance to see Chile. Chile managed by Argentinian (and former Argentina coach) Marcelo Bielsa have been touted as the surprise dark horses of this World Cup. That usually is the kiss of death...quite literally. In 94 Pele tipped the Colombians as potential World Cup winners and such was the weight of expectation, Andres Escobar was shot to death for his unfortunate own-goal. Lucky Rob Green doesn't live in Bogota...more on him later.

The only violence in relation to this tournament has been of Salvador Cabanas, the Paraguayan dynamo who would have been at this tournament had he not been shot in the head in January. Luckily, the incident in Mexico, where he plies his trade, left him harmed but not dead. A real shame actually. My hyperbole for other players doesn't do this little man much justice. Seems to still be having an affect on the team though.

So, will Chile actually surprise us? Well, Bielsa is revered in post-Earthquake ravaged Chile. He instilled a sense of national pride before the quake and as with Greece, a bit of joy in the football would be a boost to the country.

Interesting team actually. Only finished second behind Brazil in qualifying and line-up in a dynamic 3 3 1 3 formation. A playmaker behind 3 forward, including Mexican based Humberto Suazo. Suazo scored 10 in qualifying but the playmaker is key to this equation. Matias Fernandez or 'Matigol' is very skillful and creation down the middle will be pivotal in this tournament. Not many teams have mastered it so far and Chile need points early before they come up against Spain. So watch out for him.

Honduras are another team related to a bit of violence. Wilson Palacios who is not 100 per cent ahead of the clash with Chile, lost his brother to a kidnapping and murder case when he first joined Tottenham. Apparently, the Honduran team suffer from a lack of concentration when it comes to tactical positioning and execution. I would too if I had to worry about kidnapping.

Anyway, Colombian coach, Rueda, has Premiership experience in his team with Wilson Palacios, Hendry Thomas and Maynor Figueroa to pick from. Palacios is the playmaker in this team - at Spurs he plays more of a linchpin, defensive midfield role. So thats a worry. They line up 4 4 2 and rely on 'forays' from their full backs. I wonder if they will struggle like the other coaches who get stuck in the middle and cross into the box. Considering Rueda will be drilling them on tactics I'm guessing they will be rigid in their approach and their warm-ups haven't been great.

But you should check out this mad team profiles by a very young lady on Noor TV. Quite disconcerting

Still, first time since 1982 that they've qualified. A bit like New Zealand and they did themselves proud. Hard one to call really but I'll give Chile a win by a couple of goals. 2 nil.

Spain tomorrow. You don't need me to tell you about them. Should be a thrill but I imagine Switzerland will do what Denmark did to the Netherlands. Park the bus and counter. Didn't work for Denmark.

And then South Africa versus Uruguay. Mphela against Forlan. Suarez didn't impress against France so he and Forlan need to connect better. I think they'll have more chance to tomorrow night and I think it will be the end of the road for South Africa. Uruguay have a bit more discipline and a bit more quality. 2 - 1 to Uruguay.

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