Friday, June 18, 2010


Netherlands 2-0 Denmark
Japan 1-0 Cameroon
Italy 1-1 Paraguay
New Zealand 1-1 Slovakia
Ivory Coast 0-0 Portugal
Brazil 2-1 North Korea
Honduras 0-1 Chile
Spain 0-1 Switzerland
South Africa 0-3 Uruguay
Argentina 4-1 South Korea
Greece 2-1 Nigeria
France 0-2 Mexico

Well, Switzerland created the biggest shock of the tournament with a 1-0 victory against Spain. The Spanish seemed lost of ideas and resorted to a lot of crosses and corners at the wings which always ended up useless. Although they did have many good chances on goal, I guess luck was not on their side. Buffon is injured and most probably Italy will have to continue the rest of the campaign without him. Italy were lucky to get the draw after Paraguay were ahead in the match. Japan created history when Honda gave them the goal for the win against Eto'o's Cameroon.

New Zealand and Slovakia played one of the most boring matches in the tournament. I heard people who watched it were complaining like hell. There was one who shared to me that he was struggling to stay awake throughout the match. Was it that bad? I watched the Ivory Coast - Portugal match and in all honesty, Ivory Coast played better and of course, like most matches watched so far, the African countries are a lot tougher in their plays. Portugal looked too soft compared to them and Cristiano Ronaldo was heavily guarded throughout the match. Deco looked like he should have retired before the tournament, almost invincible.

Higuain scored the first hattrick in the low scoring World Cup tournament where teams are defending extremely tight. Lucky for him, most of the goals were presented to him in front of goal as he did not really create them from scratch. South Korea were quite good actually if you watched the match. It is just that they had a lousier finishing touch than Argentina. Mexico managed to beat France in the last match before this post although they only managed a draw against South Africa in the opening match. Every decent football fan will want France out as soon as possible for the way they qualify to play in the tournament.

From here onwards, Spain and England better perform miles better or can end up going home early from the tournament. I also hope the goals start pouring in as the players get used to the Jabulani ball.

Worldview: Why Has World Cup 2010 Been The Lowest Scoring Tournament For Years?

Frustrated fans, perplexed players...
Jun 17, 2010 4:28:00 PM

It's been the lowest scoring opening round of matches in the World Cup by some way for the last three tournaments and fans, players and officials alike are scratching their heads as to why.

Is it down to a paucity of attacking endeavour? How much has the Jabulani ball really effected the number of goals? Is it down to the fear of losing an opening game paralysing teams? Perhaps it's due to increased excellence in defence? Or maybe the altitude is leaving teams a spent force? UK takes a look at some of the stats to see if they help pinpoint a reason for the lack of entertainment.

Where have all the goals gone?

The Facts

So far in World Cup 2010 only 25 goals have been scored which falls way below the previous two tournaments. In 2002 an impressive 46 goals were smashed in (although eight of those came in Germany's demolition of Saudi Arabia) and 39 were netted in 2006.

2010 first group games
2006 first group games
2002 first group games
25 (1.56 goals per game)
39 (2.43 goals per game)
46 (2.88 goals per game)

The Opinion

Brazilians have long been admired as the leading attacking nation in the world, so who better to ask than Brazil's Andre Baibich. "I believe the teams are using the wrong strategy to attack in this World Cup. All teams seem to be trying to attack with width. If you look at the matches you always see the attacking team passing the ball around and getting it to their winger, trusting him to dribble past his marker and create the space. But there's always a full-back and a winger defending on the sides, so there's no space.

"If there's a place on the pitch with a little bit of space, the way I see it, it's between the defence and midfield lines, at the edge of the box. If you look at England's goal against USA that is very clear. Heskey moves back and finds that tiny space to flick the pass and find Gerrard alone to score."

The Jabulani ball

The Facts

2010 first group games
2006 first group games
2002 first group games
398 shots (132 on target)
352 shots (159 on target)
357 shots (181 on target)

The Opinion

Germany produced by far the most impressive attacking performance of the opening round, with many putting this down to the fact the Bundesliga has used the Jabulani ball for sixth months. So does familiarity breed contentment? "If you watch the Bundesliga and the World Cup, you see that the ball reacts completely differently," says Francois Duchateau of Germany. "Nobody said anything about the Jabulani before the World Cup, but in South Africa this ball is really going crazy. It drifts away, doesn't know top spin and jumps off very high. This is not usual.

"In German league competition, there was no discussion about the ball. So it has to do with the South African circumstances. Is it the altitude? Or maybe the pitches? We don't know. But Germany has no advantages because of this crazy beach volley ball!"

Defence is the best form of attack

The Facts

2010 first group games
2006 first group games
2002 first group games
4 goals in last 10 mins
10 goals in last 10 mins
7 goals in last 10 mins

The Opinion UK's Graham Lister puts this year's tournament in historical perspective. "It seems that caution and defensive organisation are triumphing over the cavalier approach that brought some of the previous World Cups alive. There is a premium on risk-taking and it's called pressure.

"Those who were enthralled by earlier tournaments, particularly the seminal 1970 World Cup, must wonder why teams with vaunted attacking riches are finding it so hard to locate the flair. It's a case of keep what we've got - a clean sheet at kick-off - and hope to nick something, rather than let's show the world what we can do by filling our boots.

"The pressure, though, will only intensify as the competition progresses, so it's to be hoped that the shackles will soon be flung aside as teams start to realise that boldness is still the route to glory."

Stopping the opposition

The Facts

2010 first group games
2006 first group games
2002 first group games
57 cards (4 red) 72 cards (3 red) 55 cards (3 red)

The Opinion

Carlo Garganese,'s Italian expert, is well versed in catenaccio, so what is the current defensive trend? "Defending is easier, not better. The sweeper has disappeared from the game because through balls have disappeared. And through balls have disappeared because the synthetic balls travel too fast and are either swept up by the goalkeepers, or run out of play.

"The only ball defenders have to watch out for is the diagonal through pass - such as Robinho's for Elano's goal during the match against South Korea - but even these are becoming rarer and rarer."

Also revealing is the Castrol Index for the first round of matches, which finds that eight of the top 10 performing players in the first round were either defenders or goalkeepers. Here is the list:

1. Gabriel Heinze (Argentina, Def) 9.51
2. Waldo Ponce (Chile, Def) 9.33
3. Manuel Neuer (Germany, GK) 9.22
4. Antolin Alcaraz (Paraguay, Def) 9.20
5. Gregory Van Der Wiel (Netherlands, Def) 9.19
5. Gary Medel (Chile, Mid) 9.19
7. Jung Sung Ryong (South Korea, GK) 9.15
8. Lee Jung Soo (South Korea, Def) 9.12
9. Martin Demichelis (Argentina, Def) 9.06
9. Park Ji-Sung (South Korea, Mid) 9.06

Up in the air - the effect of altitude

The Facts

2010 average altitude
2006 average altitude
2002 average altitude
783.7m 148.25m 33.95m

The Opinion

Peter Pedroncelli is's African expert. "Acclimatising is key to the World Cup players. But a number of teams have been training at altitude and they do not seem to be superior in any particularly pronounced way.

Added to that, at altitude an object encounters less wind resistance, and this may also affect the flight of the ball, and in this case, the flight of the much maligned Jabulani."

Fallen stars

The Facts

So far, the competition is being fought-out without the likes of David Beckham, Michael Ballack and Nani, while Didier Drogba and Arjen Robben are struggling to gain full match fitness in order to feature prominently in this summer's tournament.

The Opinion International's World editor Peter Staunton offers this take. "Italy were missing Andrea Pirlo against Paraguay, and certainly his guile could be seen as a big miss for the world champions. England counted out Gareth Barry but to what extent could he have contributed in a playmaking sense against USA? Precious little, in my opinion.

"The lack of impact from 'star names' is less to do with their outright absence than it is their ineffectiveness in international systems. Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney seem to be fish out of water in their national teams, as opposed to their clubs. Domestically, teams are built around them over a course of months.

There simply is not that window of opportunity at international levels. It's more a case of sink or swim. Indeed only Joachim Loew (Germany), with Mesut Oezil, Marcelo Bielsa (Chile) with Alexis Sanchez and Oscar Tabarez (Uruguay) with Diego Forlan have got genuine return from their playmakers so far."

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