Saturday, June 26, 2010

Group G Decided! Selecao I and Seleccao II Advance

Brazil and Portugal advanced from the group of death at the expense of Ivory Coast and newcomers, North Korea. Portugal was aided by a unexpected 7-0 rout of the Chollimas and therefore built up an unassailable goal advantage. It was never likely that Ivory Coast could emulate Portugal's feat but they tried gallantly.

Brazil and Portugal met in their final group match. It was a highly anticipated match but sadly, the match was marred by fouls and the referee took centre stage in the first half. Cristiano Ronaldo kept on blasting freekicks high and wide all through the match. Those were wasted setpiece opportunities. The best chance did fall for Portugal when Raul Meireles ran onto a loose ball (from a Ronaldo run) which Julio Cesar palmed away. At least Brazil kept a clean sheet and this should boost Juan's confidence. Juan is prone to errors and in the 93rd minute, his sloppy play almost let Danny in on goal.

Carlos Quieroz had a different opinion of the match or maybe he was watching a different match?
"I think it was a great show, a football feast. Brazil played very strong in the first few minutes but after their initial period of domination, Portugal slowly started to control the game. In the end, it was a game where we attacked and they defended. Today is a day to celebrate because Portugal has qualified with a great degree of merit. It was a great game of football, the players played extremely well and they must be congratulated. I think the draw was a fair result.''
Sounds just like the usual drivel coming from a manager with blinkers on. Make no mistake about it, Brazil-Portugal was one big yawn.

Ivory Coast put up a hopeful display against North Korea, knowing that they needed nine goals and a Brazilian win to make it to the last 16. They seemed to be on course as the Elephants scored two goals in tthe first 20 minutes, keeping up with the needed one goal per ten minute pace. Unfortunately, Ivory Coast could not breach the Korean defence until the 82nd minute when Kalou poked the ball home for their third. Drogba was phenomenal in this match as he tried to defy the odds, hitting the crossbar and having a goal disallowed in the process.

North Korea, after their stunning display against Brazil, turned out to be as everyone suspected. Though they tried hard, they did not have sufficient quality to cause Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast any worries. Jong Tae-Se will definitely become a better footballer but he did miss a golden one-on-one in the 81st minute. His one goal per game claim falls horribly flat.

And so, Brazil and Portugal progress into the last 16. Brazil are formidable and will face Chile, an opponent whom they know about from playing the South American qualifying stages. Portugal, on the other hand, will not enjoy meeting a Spanish side who clearly have overcome their shock opening loss. The Portuguese have yet to concede a goal in the group phases and therefore will rely on their solid defence to thwart the fluid Spanish side.

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