Getting this out of the way: the refs I’ve seen for the most part have been good, with the exception of Jorge Larionda*, and between the improved filtering and familiarity just pushing it into the background the South African horns are no longer irritating me much. ESPN and their commentators are so far so good with again one notable exception. Alexei Lalas was a great player, a bad club executive and a terrible TV host; ESPN should cut their losses and drop him.
USA-England was a good start for us. If you could toss out the first five minutes of settling in, we’d have won the game 1-0. Too bad FIFA won’t do that. Silver lining: the 3 Lions goal did come from Liverpool’s Stevie G on a nice pass from former Red Emile Heskey. Not sure how Robert Green is preferred to David James, but that’s Fabio Capello for you. Now we need to make Slovenia eat their player’s words and get the win Friday.
Germany romped over the Aussies. Tim Cahill’s red was a massive mistake but I doubt his continued presence would have substantially altered the result. Podolski reversed his club form and was the German’s second best player after captain Phillip Lahm; both players created width that Australia couldn’t handle.
Spain 0-1 Switzerland, upset of the round! I watched this game and though La Furia Roja were too predictable, too repetitive and were almost Arsenal-like in passing over shooting. As one comment I saw said, if Pedro was preferred over Cesc Fabregas as a sub why would Fabregas want to join Barcelona. The goal was on a counter, Casillas couldn’t handle the one on one and Puyol was so far upfield he couldn’t get back into the six yard box to help.
I didn’t see Brazil-North Korea but Zonal Marking has two good recaps. Why Brazil’s breakthrough was always going to come from Maicon especially shows how come the Samba Kings will almost certainly be on the field come July 11.
South Korea were value for money and tomorrow’s early match against Argentina, who were not, should be a cage match. Japan squeezed past Cameron in a mild upset. Netherlands were pretty much always winning anyway but got a helping hand from a Danish own goal; Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt put in their second.
France were a joke on Friday though Uruguay’s romp today against South Africa show I may have underestimated the South American side’s quality. Portugal and Ivory Coast were in on the joke together in a very disappointing match.
The second and third round of games should be more aggressive, if the Uruguay-South Africa affair was predictive.
More games, nummy nummy!