With the first set of matches at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil over, soccer expert Lachlan Barker reviews the matches played so far and looks forward to the ones to come — including the battling Socceroos versus the Netherlands tonight.
THE SETTLING AND SIFTING of teams at the FIFA 2014 World Cup has been run, won, drawn and lost.
As we move into round two, we now have a better grip on who’s most likely and, of course, the first part of this summary has to deal with how badly I was wrong on a few points.
I wrote that Spain and Portugal were the best chances from Europe — and boy did I have that rammed down my throat.
Germany operated on Portugal like a skilled surgeon, pulled them apart and won 4-0.
Three goals before half-time saw the Germans wrap it up by the break.
But if that was bad, Spain had it worse — demolished 5-1 by The Netherlands.
Japan, my tip from Asia lost to the Ivory Coast, 2-1.
Algeria, my nomination from Africa, went down 2-1 to Belgium.
My score tips for Australia were okay to start with, I said Chile 4 – Australia 0, and the final readout was the Chileans up 3-1.
However, the second part of that was tipping Australia 1, The Netherlands 1.
Considering what the Dutch did to Spain, those two single ones may be joined together and the score may show 11-0.
Let's hope not. Such was the Dutch annihilation of the Spanish, anything could happen.
One team that have nosed out of the pack are Mexico; they won their first game against Cameroon, and drew with the hosts, mighty Brazil, last night, so they look like being the surprise packet.
Brazil started shakily in the opening match of the tournament, with Croatia scoring first, albeit from a Brazilian own goal, however the hosts rallied and won 3-1.
Mexico defeated Cameroon 1-0 in the other match of the group.
The writing was on the wall here when Dutch Striker Van Persie scored in the 44th minute.
It was, technically, one of the most precise goals ever scored.
Van Persie, in full flight, had to control the power of his header so the ball went over the keeper, but under the bar.
It was a goal that could only have been scored by a man at the peak of confidence and form and was a sign of the Dutch fervent desire to win this game.
Chile 3 – Australia 1
Our boys did perform manfully and at least scored a goal — Tim Cahill in the 35th.
We showed enough though, to not look out of place on the world stage.
The Colombians showed their mettle here and this coincided with a severely off day from the Greeks.
Colombia look set to advance easily.
Japan strove hard but the ephemeral Africans were too much to contain by the end.
The entry of Cote’s best known player Didier Drogba in the second half provided the spark that was required.
The Colombia – Cote D’Ivoire match should be “strap yourself in stuff”.
Generally considered a surprise, but Costa Rica are clearly no slouches.
The Uruguayans fell apart at the end and will need to show much more steel if they are to progress in the tournament.
Their decay was highlighted by the sending off of defender Maximiliano PEREIRA in the shadow of the full-time whistle for a massively rash challenge.
The Italians really looked the goods here.
Famous for their skills, it seemed that the ball clings to the Italian players’ boots as if some form of gravitational pull is at work.
This match provided the “most ironic” moment of the tournament so far.
Italy scored in the 35th minute, then England equalised moments later in the 37th.
The entire England component then formed a joyous celebratory “stacks-on-the-mill”-style pile near the England bench.
When the pile unwound, the England physio, Gary Lewin, who was on the bottom, didn’t get up.
He was stretchered away with a dislocated, or broken, ankle.
A stereotypical clash of styles, flamboyant South Americans against the clockwork Europeans.
The Swiss prevailed with all the efficiency you would expect.
A similar match up, but the French showed enough gallic flair to dominate.
The Switzerland – France game will be tight, but when Honduras play Ecuador, literally anything could happen.
Mighty v minnow, but the Bosnian-Herzegovinians were not out of place at all.
Indeed Argentina went ahead in the third minute due to an own goal by Bosnia-Herzegovina defender, Kolasinac, and this seemed to allow the South American giants to relax and find their groove.
This was a sleep-fest really.
Little or no excitement and the first time I used fast forward to move through my recording to see if anything had happened.
Ignore Germany at your peril it seems, tipsters please note.
This was exciting, the Americans scored in the first minute, through striker Dempsey, and this opened up the match from the off.
The second half saw the Ghanaians begin to stream forward with ever increasing menace and they were rewarded with an equaliser in the 82th minute from striker Ayew.
But the Americans didn’t say die, and their central defender Brooks got his head to a cross to nod home the winner in the 86th.
More European efficiency saw the Belgians home, but Algeria’s lone goal gives them hope for the next round.
Two very evenly matched teams went at it with due diligence.
The Koreans scored in the 68th minute through Lee and pushed the button wake up their opponents.
Russia equalised in the 74th minute through Kerzhakov, and the set up a tense final fifteen.
Points were shared in the end and that is a true reflection of the two teams.
It has been a terrific World Cup so far, with plenty of goals and very few draws. We can only hope the quality continues this week.
Read more by Lachlan Barker at cyclonecharlie88.blogspot.com.au.
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