Archive for June 14th, 2010

What We Learned From Japan vs Cameroon (1-0)

That Was A Knockout Match

Once again, goals change games. Once the Japanese had scored with the only halfway decent move of the first half, Cameroon had to score and that set the trend for the rest of the match. Japan had asked the question and Cameroon had none of the answers. It was quite interesting when it got to 85 minutes and you’re hoping Cameroon don’t score and they’re increasingly pressing forward. Cameroon’s failure to get into the game illustrates the drawbacks of a conservative opening attitude. Cameroon’s next match, against the Danes, who also lost today, is now a must win. Even then, they will have to get a result from the Holland match. Tempting to say Goodbye Cameroon.

Nice Try Nippon

They were fantastically unlucky in their friendly against Engerland where they not only bossed the game, but managed to score all the goals. This was Japan’s first World Cup win outside Japan, so nicely done.

Take Note Pragmatists

Those teams that are playing not to get beaten should take note here. Cameroon were the outstanding favourites for this game, but totally failed to get a result, primarily because they didn’t attempt to seize the game. They were happy to pootle around the Japanese, but came up against a well-drilled, functionally proficient side. It illustrates the need for teams to attempt to dominate the game and force a result rather than muddle along hoping things turn out alright.

10 Down 54 To Go

Archive for June 14th, 2010

What We Learned From Holland vs Denmark (2-0)

Normal Service Has Been Resumed (Sadly)

After yesterday’s mishap, when a bout of footballing took place during the World Cup, normal levels of football related tedium were resumed as two Northern European teams battled it out to out-chess one another in the football think stakes. Now one of the thrills of the World Cup is the meeting of different footballing cultures. With the possible exception of Engerland vs USA, which was a Prem match in international shirts, this was the most obviously traditional match style imaginable. Both teams were utterly familiar with each other’s style and played safety-first mid-level European tauperball. Denmark, yawn, yawn, two banks of four, man to man on the Dutch, who weren’t doing anything special themselves. Holland pretty little triangles (those same fucking triangles, always bloody triangles) in front of the Danish back four where they were never going to do much damage, but looked very pretty and lovely and non-threatening in a vaguely pan-European demographic way. You sensed that everyone would have settled for a draw from the word go.

First Goal Was The Killer

Given neither side looked like making any kind of impact, the first goal was going to be critical. And once the Danes had gifted the Dutch the lead, the game was effectively over. Because, the second goal aside, neither team really threatened in any meaningful way for the rest of the game. Van Persil played in a laid back Arsenal style, never breaking forward with pace, but hoping to find the microscopic ant-hole through which to tread the perfect pass or shot. As as result he never looked like doing anything serious. Meanwhile, his Arsenal teammate Bentner also managed to be utterly innocuous in front of goal. Apparently he spent most of the second half being substituted, but frankly I didn’t notice.

Fast Players Change Games

Holland blotted their ‘we’re just going to be dull this time’ copybook by introducting pacy winger Elia for tardy midfield lard bucket Van der Vaart. This not only added threat down the left, but freed up Wesley Snipes to act as more of a playmaker. Admittedly, by this time the Dutch were one up and the game was, effectively, over, but it was still a serious lapse of judgement from the Dutch. We almost woke up a bit at this point.

Dirk Kuyt Does The Business

Fundamentally Dirk Kuyt is a squad player who has exceeded expectations. No one would accuse him of being genuinely world class, just a solid, dependable Premiership quality player, nothing special. So much so you’d almost expect him to be Danish. But one thing he does give is total committment and he was rewarded with the second goal as he chased down the scraps from Elia’s cut in. And, because the Danish defender gave up, he was able to sneak in for a tap-in.

Hmmm Those Germans Were Good Weren’t They?


9 Down 55 To Go