Algeria 0-1 Slovenia
The things I do for you people. When people talk about why they don’t like soccer, it’s because they’ve seen games like this – played between the penalty areas, with little width, and lots of wayward passes, needless fouls, and missed shots. Thankfully, Robert Koren, with help from Algerian goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi, rescued the game from utter disaster 10 minutes from the end. This was even worse than Uruguay v. France, because at last that had the joy of watching France underperform. However, Slovenia has a player whose last name is “Jokic,” which brought out my inner Beavis. On the plus side, I didn’t see anything to suggest that the United States can’t beat both of these teams.
Prediction against result: Maybe I should pull more predictions out of my ass.
Serbia 0-1 Ghana
Another game that lived up to the stereotypes of both nations. The Serbs were tough and physical while Ghana attacked with speed, but lacked discipline. But I had hoped it would have resulted in a more interesting game. That is, until Aleksander Lukovic was sent off and Zdravko Kuzmanovic forgot the first rule of soccer: no hands allowed. It opened up the game and led to an exciting finish, but not enough to salvage the disappointment of the first 70 minutes. But unless you’re Serbian, you couldn’t watch the joy of seeing Ghana pull this out and not feel their joy.
Prediction against result: I was expecting a red card from one of the teams, but I thought it would have happened earlier. This didn’t make me look good.
Germany 4-0 Australia
This matchup between two once-bemulleted nations was never supposed to be a fair fight. Germany let the Socceroos have a sniff at goal in the opening minutes just to toy with them. After that, Germany were like a premature orgasm for the Aussies. They knew they were coming, but they couldn’t do anything to stop them. In place of Michael Ballack, Mesut Á–zil provided more creativity than Ballack, but could use more of his killer instinct if Germany are to go far in the World Cup. As for Australia, what they lack in speed, they make up for in predictability. Tim Cahill’s red card may have been harsh – the first truly questionable call of the tournament – but he wasn’t doing anything in this game, and that wasn’t likely to change against Ghana. Advance Australia Fair? Not this time.
Prediction against result: Cacau’s goal in the 70th minute prevented me from calling this one exactly.
Matchday 4 Previews
Netherlands v. Denmark 7:30 AM ET, ESPN
Never bet against the Dutch in the group stages. Just sit back and enjoy the ride before the inevitable collapse. Denmark will do their best to hold possession and keep the score respectable, but their attack, while talented, lacks the creativity to threaten against their opponents.
Netherlands 2-0 Denmark
Japan v. Cameroon 10:00 AM ET, ESPN
I’m still unsure about what to think about this. I know Japan aren’t very good, but we don’t know whether Eto’o will bother to show up for Cameroon. Trying to be optimistic, I’m going to say he’ll put the controversies behind him (at least for one game) and lead his country to victory.
Japan 0-2 Cameroon
Italy v. Paraguay 2:30 PM ET, ESPN
The line is that Italy traditionally get off to a slow start. Based on what I saw against Mexico last week, they should consider speeding up. But it’s still Italy. They’ll score their goal, then shut it down.
Italy 1-0 Paraguay