I’ve created a special Twitter feed for my World Cup updates. You can follow my updates throughout the tournament at @dsliftonwc.
South Africa 1-1 Mexico
Usually in situations, the home team comes out looking strong and the visitors absorb pressure for the first 15-20 minutes. But South Africa, probably the result of nerves, got off to a slow start as Mexico controlled possession. Eventually, the hosts got into the flow of the game and mounted some serious attacks by the end of the first half, lacking only the final ball. Mexico’s disallowed goal in the 38th minute was the correct call. There was a defender on the back post, but Carlos Vela was ahead of the goalkeeper, and you need two defenders to be onside. You’d think ESPN’s all-British announcing team of Martin Tyler and Efan Ekoku would have known that.
Mexico still possessed well in the second half, but midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala hit them on the counter attack in the 55th minute to score the first goal of the tournament for the Bafana Bafana. After that, Mexico struggled to regain their composure until Rafael Marquez tied it up in the 79th minute. Both sides pressed for the winner, and Katlego Mphela almost got it when he hit the post in the 90th minute. But the 1-1 draw was a fair result, and now Mexico have some genuine questions to ask of themselves.
Result against prediction: The early opening goal for South Africa I predicted didn’t come until the 55th minute, and they defended better than I, and the rest of the world, thought. Until, that is, Marquez was left wide open for his equalizer. As an American fan, I was hoping for the full upset, but am satisfied with the outcome.
Uruguay 0-0 France
Uruguay were their own worst enemy, repeatedly thwarting their own attacks with bad passes whenever they were in good position. Their best chances came from hoofing it forward to Diego Forlan and hoping he could do something with it. Fortunately for them, they were playing France, whose lack of cohesion was on full display. I remain unconvinced that Franck Ribery is a world-class soccer player. He has great speed and size, but his service from the wing is always poor. Yoann Gourcuff, however, is a star in the making, creating France’s best chances with his clever free kicks.
Although the game finished as a draw, the real victor here has to be Uruguay, who executed their game plan of team defense perfectly, while the more talented French side were unable to break them down. The ejection of Uruguayan midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro ten minutes from time was the only blemish on an otherwise stellar defensive performance.
Result against prediction: Not to toot my own horn, but I called this one exactly…
Matchday 2 Previews
South Korea v. Greece 7:30 AM ET, ESPN
Between the early start time and the complete lack of glamour, unless you have a rooting interest in the game, you are forgiven if you decide to sleep in and miss the game. The rest of us, however, will have to suffer for our fanaticism.
Argentina v. Nigeria 10:00 AM ET, ESPN
The spotlight will be on Argentina and every game they play will be a test of whether or not the Maradona Experiment was a mistake. At least for this game, it won’t be. The superior talent will win out for the South Americans.
Prediction: Argentina 3, Nigeria 0
England v. United States 2:30 PM ET, ABC
On paper, this looks like it has the possibility of an upset, and it could very well happen, and I would be thrilled by it. But my heart says it won’t happen. England are fully capable of quickly finding the weaknesses in the American’s defense, and will exploit it as often as possible.
Prediction: England 3, United States 1