Monday, June 14, 2010

World Cup Thoughts: Monday, June 14th

Netherlands 2, Denmark 0

Operation Trying to Get Up for the 6:3oam Games has been a rousing failure for me so far, and this game was no exception. I did actually wake up for this one, only to fall asleep on the couch shortly thereafter. So, that's something. The Dutch though were one of the teams like I felt could go a long way before this tournament started, but Denmark played them pretty tough throughout the first half. It was about one minute into the second half however when Denmark made the worst mistake you can make in soccer, an own goal. Danish defender Simon Poulsen tried to clear a ball in his own box, but he instead headed it off the back of another defender and it trickled into the goal. Holland (the goal is to use all three of their names each post) then put another goal away in the 85th minute, and won 2-0. They didn't play as well as they were expected to, but I still see a nice run for the Dutch.

Japan 1, Cameroon 0

We've had some surprising ties so far this Cup, but this is really the first true upset as Japan thwarted off a very strong attack from Cameroon to sustain a victory. Keisuke Honda scored the game's only goal in the 39th minute, and after that Japan's one and only focus was defense and winning by the score of 1-0. Despite Cameroon getting multiple chances in the second half, including a brilliant shot from Stephane Mbia that hit the crossbar in the 87th minute, Japan won the contest.

After the game, they by far gave the most spirited celebration that we've seen in this World Cup, as I'm pretty sure Japan could lose their next two games 5-0 each and they'd be satisfied with their performance. Listen to some of these stats from Japan's victory - Japan had three scoring chances (the lowest by a winning team at a World Cup since the stat was tracked in 1966), Japan had a 71.2 passing accuracy percentage (lowest in this Cup so far), and they had zero corner kicks (the sixth team to win without taking a corner since 1966). Nice work, Japan. Now see you back in four years.

Italy 1, Paraguay 1

Things looked pretty scary for the Azzuri when Paraguay got on the board first in the 39th minutes off of a set piece, which was the main way that Italy scored during their victorious run in the 2006 World Cup. A Paraguay victory here would have been another major upset, as Italy is one of the favorites to win the whole thing. But Italy came back and scored in the 63rd minute, giving each team one point going forward.

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