World Cup Group E Redux: Japan's Lethargic Attack, Dennis Rommedahl's Danish Delight

20 June 2010

Dennis Rommedahl (L) celebrates with Nicklas Bendtner (R) after scoring Denmark's second goal. (Credit Image: © Action Images/ZUMApress.com)
Japan’s Lack of Attacking Instinct Gives Holland Three Points
On Saturday, Holland were there for the taking. Other than a thunder strike from Wesley Sneijder eight minutes into the second half, Holland were very inept in the attack. Japan, on the other hand, had their chances in the first half, and immediately after Sneijder scored, to get back in this game.
It’s frightening how much Japan relies on Keisuke Honda to set up everything, and he was effectively marked out of the game. After Japan went down, Yoshito Okubo was the only one who created anything towards the goal frame, but he was never close to making Maarten Stekelenburg uncomfortable. Even when opening up, Japan did not play with any real urgency. It was almost as if they were more than happy to sit back, cautiously attack, and if they lost 1-0, it would be perfectly alright with them. That’s not the kind of football one wants to see at the World Cup. It’s also the type of gamble I don’t want to see pay off.
Holland, though, have to figure out the paring of Sneijder and Van der Vaart. They are both trying to occupy the same space, and it’s coming at a small detriment to the squad. Whenever Elia or Afellay are on the pitch, they flow much better in the attack, and are spaced out much better defending. If they don’t pull the trigger and replace one or the other (personally, I’d replace Van der Vaart), Holland will continue its long tradition of not winning the World Cup.

The Dennis Rommedahl Show Saves Denmark From Poulsen Blunder
In the most open game so far of this 2010 FIFA World Cup, Cameroon were eliminated from the knockout stages at the second group game as Dennis Rommedahl finished off what Simon Poulsen tried to take away from Denmark in the tenth minute.
With both teams making massive defensive lapses throughout the entire ninety minutes, it was only a matter of time before someone took advantage of it: something Cameroon did ten minutes into the match. First off, Sorensen shouldn’t have passed it out to Poulsen, but Poulsen shouldn’t have just given the ball a gentle love tap to the right. Webo was there to clean up Denmark’s trash, and a pass to Samuel Eto’o saw Cameroon take a deserved 1-0 lead.
Cue Dennis Rommedahl, who had already made his presence felt down the right seven minutes in when he just skied an effort from twelve yards. It took until after the half hour mark before he would again. After taking an inch perfect diagonal ball, staying onside at the same time, he again broke from the right, spotted Bendtner, who had beat both center backs (who were begging for an offside flag), and centered the ball to where all Bendtner had to do was poke it in.
However, I really have to wonder what would have happened had Emana not laid the ball off to Samuel Eto’o in the forty-second minute. He had a clear sight of the goal, and should have taken advantage of it. Yes, Eto’o’s effort went off the post; but there are some moments where one has to be selfish, and I think that was it. They paid for it in the second half. After Assou-Ekotto pushed up into the attack, Rommedahl struck again. With Makoun having to occupy space he wasn’t expecting to, the Danish midfielder beat him with ease before curling a beautiful shot far post.
Denmark needs a win against Japan to advance. If they can shore up their defense, while playing with the same attacking flair, they will do so. Japan has shown me nothing that tells me they can get three points. If they play for the draw here, I think Japan will get burned.

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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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