World Cup Day 5 Redux: New Zealand's Goal, Ronaldo and Drogba Reliance, North Korea

16 June 2010

Winston Reid of New Zealand Celebrates with team Mate Jeremy Christie AT The End of The Match. (Credit Image: © Imago/
Jan Durica Helps New Zealand’s ‘Let it Ride’ Attitude to World Cup
I won’t lie in saying this maybe the second match I was looking forward to in the first round of group games. After following New Zealand’s playoff with Bahrain, something about their belief made me curious to see how they would perform at this World Cup.
While they may have had a few moments of madness in the first half, and giving up what was in fairness an offside goal, New Zealand actually upped their game, and were rewarded with only seconds remaining. Bringing in Chris Wood and Jeremy Christie added to the All Whites attack. It also helped that New Zealand decided to add Winston Reid into the attack.
The late goal Slovakia conceded was just sloppy all around. Their spacing around the ball was atrocious. Yes, Smeltz did well to get the space he needed to get the cross in, but Slovakia just gave it to him so cheaply. Sorry, but while the ball has been ‘kind’ to defenders until now, you just can’t expect it to every day. However, the biggest goat has to be Jan Durica. How he let Winston Reid get not only behind him, but not even bother to save his own team’s bacon is just dumb. They were one cross away from winning the match, but for one mistake, ended up having to share spoils.
Yes, New Zealand is more than happy to be here. They also realize they were going to need a lot of luck to advance to the knockout stage. While basically playing on house money, New Zealand cashed in again to let it ride once more against Italy.
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (R) in action with Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast. (Credit Image: © Action Images/
The Over Reliance on One Costs Both Ivory Coast and Portugal
We knew one was hurt, while the other hasn’t scored in 16 months for his national side. Yet today, both Ivory Coast and Portugal showed how much they relied on both of their major club stars. However, one is still better off than the other.
I’ll start with Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo. His frustration at any little contact, legal or not, did not help his side Tuesday. He only had one threatening effort on the frame of goal: an early effort that nearly broke the post. What also didn’t help was the fact everyone wearing the Portugal kit kept throwing the ball his way and just expected him to win it for them. If they keep that up, they won’t be advancing out of the group stage.
While the Ivory Coast did look better in the twenty-nine minutes Didier Drogba was on the pitch, I felt they were doing more to create on the attack. Grevinho on the left did a good job finding targets; he just didn’t look good in his service into the box. Their back line did an exception job shutting down Portugal and only allowing one shot on target. If there was one thing I would look to improve on, it would be their link play from the midfield to the attack. For large swaths of the game, it looked non-existent.
Based on the result of the match I’m fixing to talk about, I think Ivory Coast has a much better chance of advancing out of the group stage. Portugal, to me, just looked that bad. Cristiano Ronaldo simply cannot carry Portugal’s national team on his shoulders.
North Korea's Ji Yun Nam (left centre No. 8) is celebrated by teammates after scoring the 1-2 against Brazil. (Credit Image: © epa/
North Korea Breaths Life Into Group of Death
North Korea was dubbed the great unknown heading into the World Cup. No one knew exactly what they would do tactically. Above all, other than Jong Tae-Se, next to nothing was known about the players on the squad other than the fact North Korea tried to sneak an added attacker on as a third goalie. Everyone expected Dunga to run roughshod over the North Koreans, but boy were we in for a shock.
During the coldest game ever to be played at a World Cup, we were exposed to a much more tactical game than anyone ever expected. Even during Maicon’s goal, North Korea kept a solid line of 5 at the back, with their three midfielders filling in the gaps in between. What could be more surprising was their two man counter attack in how quick they were able to get down field. However, in what could be the most shocking moment of the match, North Korea pulled it back to 2-1 in the eighty-ninth minute with a goal that could have out done most of Brazil’s goals.
Now yes, Maicon’s goal was a thing of beauty, and Elano’s goal to make it 2-0 was also beautiful. However, it was embarrassing how they little they cared about playing this game. For all the possession they had in the first half, they didn’t even start to look interested until the second half. In fact, one could really argue that North Korea had the better scoring opportunities throughout the 90 minutes. Brazil, for the most part, was limited to long range efforts that ended up tamely high or wide.
Team organization has been a crucial part so far in this World Cup. With the organization North Korea has shown, they could very well give both the Ivory Coast and Portugal fits in their upcoming games. Brazil better start taking their opponents seriously. It was pathetic to see how little they cared about playing.


football gifts June 16, 2010 at 2:19 AM  

another average day, I’m looking forward to the knockout stages, the teams are too cautious so far.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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