Honduras 0-1 Chile
After yesterday’s crapfests, it was a relief to see both teams flying around the field at a ridiculous pace, committed to playing attacking soccer (even if Honduras wasn’t very good at it and repeatedly lost possession). Lots of reckless tackles didn’t hurt, either. For the neutral, this was one of the most exciting games of the tournament, and everything I had hoped Portugal v. Ivory Coast would be. Chile are definitely a team to watch for this tournament. For Honduras, I felt a degree of pride seeing Roger Espinoza of the Kansas City Wizards out there. I covered the 2008 MLS SuperDraft and wrote about him, so I felt like a piece of me was on the field. But the pride soon turned to shame as Chile discovered he was the weakness in their midfield and had a field day down the right side.
Prediction against result: I wrote 1-0 here yesterday, but in the Yahoo Group I changed it to 0-0 after the post went live. Sigh.
Spain 0-1 Switzerland
Spain did what Spain does, short passes on the ground with perfect movement and a fluidity that is a joy to watch. They’re also as patient as Derek Jeter with an 0-2 count, which worked against them as they struggled to break down Switzerland’s defensive shell. The Swiss made them pay for their lack of urgency through Gelson Fernandes’ in the 52nd minute. The goal forced Spain to play the not-fully fit Fernando Torres, and even he couldn’t figure out a way to break them down. You could say Spain were unlucky given the amount of possession they had – and Xabi Alonso striking the crossbar was definitely unlucky – but a team this creative should have found some way to find the goal.
Prediction against result: Switzerland’s defensive prowess should have been known to anyone who remembered their performance in 2006. I was not one of them. But still, this was an unbelievable upset that no one could have expected.
South Africa 0-3 Uruguay
Once again, Uruguay was content to sit back and defend for much of the first half. But this time, they ventured forward long enough for Diego Forlan, in a giant middle finger to the red section of Manchester, to score a goal midway through the first half. Although they were chasing the game, South Africa didn’t commit extra men into the attack, which allowed Uruguay to find themselves in the strange position of dominating the match. Forlan’s penalty after Khune’s red card did the unexpected, stopped the vuvuzelas. Alvaro Perreira’s third goal may have given Uruguay the group. If South Africa is going to avoid becoming the first home side to not make it through to the second round, they are going to have to do better against France than they did here.
Prediction against result: I figured the crowd and the momentum from last Friday would be good enough for a goal from South Africa.
Matchday 7 Previews
Argentina v. South Korea 7:30 AM ET, ESPN
South Korea will be out to prove to the naysayers (like me) that they’re for real. Argentina will be out to prove to South Korea that they’re not Greece.
Prediction:Argentina 2, South Korea 0
Greece v. Nigeria 10:00 AM ET, ESPN
Nigeria can stake out their territory as legitimate second-round contenders with a dominant performance. I don’t think it will happen, but they should still win this one and seal Greece’s fate.
Prediction: Nigeria 1, Greece 0
France v. Mexico 2:30 PM ET, ESPN2
France are freefallin’ like a Tom Petty two-for-Tuesday. An early goal for Mexico should begin the fireworks. If they’re able to get a second, look for the in-fighting to be on display for the entire world, which would be AWESOME.
Prediction: Mexico 1, France 0