Monday, June 21, 2010

World Cup Thoughts: Monday, June 21st

Portugal 7, North Korea 0

As a soccer fan, I'm more a fan of defensive themed matches, but if you like offense then I hope you got up early this morning. Before most of us even rolled out of bed, Portugal hammered home seven goals against a North Korean side that had just come off a loss (albeit an impressive one) to Brazil. After playing very stale in their first game against the Ivory Coast, the Portuguese attack left nothing behind and delivered the third largest margin of victory in World Cup history.

This game seemed pretty normal after the first half, as Portugal was up just by one goal. But then in a seven minute span in the early part of the second half, they put three more into the net, and then closed the game out with three more in the final ten. Cristiano Ronaldo is getting a lot of press for his goal, as the proflic goal scorer scored for the first time in international play since February of 2009, but five of his teammates got into the action as well. The win doesn't quite clinch a birth for the Portuguese, although they are about as close as you can be to advancing. A win or tie against Brazil will put them through, but so will a loss as long as Ivory Coast doesn't make up a nine goal differential if they happen to beat North Korea. It's highly, highly unlikely that happens, so early congratulations to Portugal.

Chile 1, Switzerland 0

The Swiss were looking to capitalize on their momentum that was earned when they knocked off Spain, but as we've seen so many times this World Cup, there was a red card that shifted the pace of this game. Valon Behrami of Switzerland was issued with the red card for a foul, and while the play was deserving of a yellow, the final booking of a red may have been a little harsh. The Chilean player sold it well though, and the red was given in a game where ten total cards were handed out.

It was an admirable performance from the Swiss though, as they played hard for the remaining sixty minutes but were clearly exhausted by the time this game was over. Despite being a man down, Switzerland were able to outlast the Chilean attack just long enough to break the record for most minutes without allowing a World Cup goal (their new record of 551 just outlasted the previous mark of 550 set by Italy), but Mark Gonzalez did end that streak with a goal in the 75th minute. Even with two wins though, Chile has not yet clinched, although at this point it would be very hard for them to play their way out of qualifying for the Round of 16.

Spain 2, Honduras 0

With Spain needing a win or a tie to avoid elimination, David Villa put the team on his back and put the Spaniards on the board twice to get the victory. Villa scored in both the 17th and 51st minute of this contest, and nearly had the second hat trick of the World Cup put he missed a penalty kick wide right in the middle of the second half. No real shock in this game, as Honduras didn't even get a shot on goal during the whole game, and the favorites earn their first victory of the Cup.

The win puts Spain in a tie with Switzerland for the second spot in Group H, but they will likely need a win against Chile if they are going to advance. It has to be expected that Switzerland will be able to beat Honduras, and Switzerland has looked very good in this cup. The Swiss beat Spain and then only lost to Chile 1-0 even though they played a man down for sixty minutes. The game between Spain and Chile should be a good one, because if though they have won two games already they are not safe either.

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