World Cup Day 6 Redux: Chile's Regretful Win, Swiss Wall of Defense, South Africa Goes Silent

17 June 2010

Gelson Fernandes (hidden) celebrates with his team mates after scoring Chile's first goal. (Credit Image: © Action Images/ZUMApress.com)
A 1-0 Chile May Regret
For a side like Chile, that may sound a bit insane; but based on the other result in Group H today, Chile maybe kicking themselves in the backside that they didn’t score more than 1 goal.
Sure, Honduras were organized in defense. Yet, Chile did an exceptional job breaking them down; the one thing they were simply pathetic in was finishing. Hell, you could argue that Beausejour’s own rump roast scored the goal and that he didn’t have much to say about the final product.
It was frightening how scary Alexis Sanchez and Matias Fernandez were pressing to put efforts on goal. Beausejour, to his credit, was doing a good job in finding the right spaces to put the ball into dangerous areas. Considering Chile’s 3-3-1-3 formation, it was frightening how they were able to get wide. It also didn’t help that Honduras was conceding everything out wide.
However, Honduras should be ashamed of themselves. They were not only appalling, but downright worthless. They played with very little passion, and dare I say they played with no heart. When it takes until minute 74 for your nation to finally get a touch of the ball inside your own attacking penalty area, it makes one not even want to watch another of your matches in the group stage.
Now in all fairness, the no call against Alvarez to start the second half was a debatable penalty, but I think Medel’s tackle was inch perfect and not worthy of the whistle. If it takes one bad call to not bother caring about fighting back, then please spare us the next two games and go home now. Yes, Chile may have won, but I bet they are regretting the fact that they didn’t get a bigger goal differential in this one. By the time the full time whistle blows in Matchday 3, they could easily go home because their goal differential in this one simply wasn’t good enough.

Switzerland's Gelson Fernandes (C) scores the 1-0 against Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas (R) during Group H's 2010 FIFA soccer World Cup preliminary round match between Switzerland and Spain in Durban, South Africa, 16 June 2010. (Credit Image: © epa/ZUMApress.com)
The Swiss Army Knife With a Defensive Edge
Everyone’s been claiming that we’ve needed a ‘shock’ to get this World Cup started. Yes, Switzerland may have beaten Spain 1-0; but the more I think about this result, the more I am starting to think this may not have been a shock at all.
To put it frankly, Switzerland may have been the most insulted team coming into the first group games. No one was talking about them. Nobody gave them a prayer at three points. However, the most important thing was with all the talk on Spain, even statistics were completely overlooked (included by yours truly).
What those stats would tell you is Switzerland had not conceded a goal in four games prior to this. If that doesn’t truly define a brick wall of defense, nothing does. Switzerland also set up N’Kufo and Derdiyok just high enough to be a nuisance at the top of the Spanish attack, but just deep enough to be successful in the counter attack.
With Spain’s frustration showing after a half of listless chances, they put too much into the attack and paid the price for it. The only man back for Spain, besides their keeper Casillas, was Pique. With Derdiyok clean through, Castillas makes the first mistake in taking out Derdiyok. The second mistake came through Pique, who in trying to take out Fernandes, handled the ball. Howard Webb correctly let play continue as Fernandes finished off the goal.
Yes, Spain was toothless until Pedrito came on, but had they not been playing football ‘the Arsenal way’, they would have sent the Swiss back home with more holes than their cheese. Instead, Switzerland showed they have more tricks up their sleeve than one gets in a Swiss Army knife. For those wondering, it’s now been 484 minutes since Switzerland gave up a goal at the World Cup…five games and counting.

South Africa's goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune (R) is booked with the red card by Swiss referee Massimo Busacca during the 2010 FIFA World Cup group A match between South Africa and Uruguay at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa. (Credit Image: © DPA/ZUMApress.com)
With the Flashing of a Red, So Went South Africa’s Chances in Their World Cup
If you saw my prediction for this match yesterday, then you know I thought South Africa would win this match. However, when it was all said and done; Uruguay showed us the attack we all thought they had in them, and South Africa exposed the weaknesses we all thought they had.
To Uruguay’s credit, they took South Africa’s midfield out of the game. Khune was forced to try and bypass their midfield with disastrous results. What lead to their demise though, was a deflection off Aaron Mokoena’s head. Sure, Diego Forlan’s shot was a thing of beauty, but with Khune heading to deal with the initial shot, he was caught flat footed and was merely a spectator watching the ball go into the net.
While South Africa did try to get back into the game, one moment of madness finished them off for good. The penalty decision, and subsequent red card in the seventy-sixth, was correct. As the ball was played into Suarez, Khume’s reckless tackle caught his foot. Suarez was never offside; and while I will disagree with the theatrics involved, when contact is made, it doesn’t matter how much acting is involved. I wish Suarez would have been given the chance to finish what he started, but with a good penalty taker in Forlan, you have to give it to him.
The third goal was just sad to watch. A long ball to Suarez from Forlan gave him all the space needed. By the time the cross was put in, Bafana Bafana had given up. It was just a matter of a tap in by Pereira to silence South Africa, and all but eliminate them from the World Cup.
It was sad to see the sadness and empty seats around the Loftus Versfeld Stadium. It was a reality that the rainbow nation would not see their side in the knockout stages, something everyone was afraid of before the competition kicked off.

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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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