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2010 World Cup Finals - Round 1

A quick review of the first round of games (ie. every team's first group game).

Overview

Asia did pretty well. South Korea and Japan both won, while Korea DPR was good value against Brazil, despite going down. Only Australia let the region down. You'd have to say Australia probably put in the worst performance of Round 1 of all 32 teams. A couple of sides (eg. England, Spain) will be disappointed with their results, but they at least played well.

There were plenty of draws as coaches are desperate not to lose their first game, leading to conservative play. South Korea and Chile played with the most attacking mindset and were well rewarded. New Zealand's draw was an absolute delight.

Most of pre-tournaments complaints about the ball did not really eventuate. It definitely bounces very high when kicked long. It can swerve on a long range shot, but so did the 2006 ball. Players do seem to have trouble getting it to dip - many shots went over the bar. There were also a few goalkeeping howlers, but you'd be hard-pressed to blame the ball for them.

Day 6

Spain vs Switzerland: I doubt many people tipped a win for Switzerland, but they pulled it off. Spain dominated in terms of possession, shots on goal, corners, you name it, but missed out where it counted. 1-0 to the Swiss.

Chile vs Honduras: A narrow win on the scoreboard, but Chile were positive and direct and made most of the running. They deserved their 1-0 win as Honduras struggled to keep up in the first time back at the finals for a long time.

Day 5

Brazil vs Korea DPR: an unenviable task for Korea first up, but they made a great fist of it. They contained Brazil pretty well and managed a few attacks on the break. In the end, Brazil's weight of possession told and they scored twice. Korea DPR managed a late goal though. A very respectable performance. 2-0.

Cote d'Ivoire vs Portugal: two glamourous teams with a handful of stars played out a 0-0 stalemate, despite many chances at both ends. Good to see Drogba coming on as a late sub.

New Zealand vs Slovakia: A pretty dull first half, but a promising one for NZ. Their tactics seemed to be working. Then all their good work was undone when they conceded early in the second half. But, lo and behold, their persistance paid off with an injury time goal earning them a point. 1-1. Fantastic.

Day 4

Italy vs Paraguay: Italy got off to their traditional slow start. Paraguay, one of the form South American teams, scored first. Italy managed to earn a point. 1-1

Japan vs Cameroon: Japan managed their first win at the finals away from home with a narrow 1-0 victory. A close game, but Japan made their most of their chances. Good for Asia.

Netherlands vs Denmark: A pretty dull first half. Livened up a bit in the second with two goals to the dutch. 2-0.

Day 3

Australia vs Germany: the nightmare that became reality. Everything that we concerned about: our lack of pace, our inability to come back from behind and the strength of the Germans all came to fruition in a 0-4 hiding. We're not out of it, but it's going to be very, very hard. The worst thing is that Cahill will be out for the Ghana game. We have to win that match against a now-confident Ghana and hope Germany thumps Serbia. Full report.

Ghana vs Serbia: a close match in the other half our group. The first half was completely dull as both teams played conservative football. The match opened up in the second half with both sides creating chances. Serbia probably edged Ghana in this area, creating more chances, but only just. Serbia had a man sent off for a dubious second yellow card. Ghana took the points via a penalty - a definite hand-ball despite the protestations. 1-0.

Armenia vs Slovakia: I have to admit it was difficult to get enthused about this match between two low ranked teams. Slovakia grabbed three points with a 1-0 win after another goalkeeping error.

Day 2

England vs USA: the talking point for the match will be the egregious error by Green (the England goalkeeper). But for mine, the USA probably deserved their point. England were reasonable and got off to a great start. But the USA dug deep and matched them for most of the match and could have even snatched a win. England have great players but are yet to gel into a team. 1-1 the final score. The USA gets my award for the worst uniform.

Argentina vs Nigeria: haven't watched this, but a 1-0 win to Argentina.

South Korea vs Greece: I thought Greece would be better and had tipped a draw. Turns out, Greece's record at the finals is pretty poor - they've even never scored goal. And on this performance they seem unlikely to progress. Korea on the other hand, were a delight. They were creative in attack and solid in defense. They thoroughly deserved their 2-0 win. The first team at these finals to: score a first half goal, score two; win.

Day 1

France vs Uruguay: France have been rubbish in the build-up, so I tipped Uruguay. Turns out, Uruguay's performance at the finals is pretty poor. And France looked pretty good to me. In the end though, they stymied each other and the game finished 0-0. Uruguay's substitute managed to pick up two yellow cards and get sent off with 10 minutes to go. France couldn't take advantage though. Both sides had a couple of good chances, but given the earlier result a draw probably suits both.

Best moment: Henry appealing for hand ball. Oh the irony. To be fair, once the referee ruled he didn't go on with it, unlike some of the other Fnench players.

South Africa vs Mezico: a game where I tipped Mexico and was feeling pretty pleased with that after 10 minutes as Mexico dominated. But South Africa stuck to their guns and won me over. They were right in the game in the second half and their goal was just wonderful. Unfortunately their defense was a little lax and Mexico equalised. South Africa has a wonderful chance to pinch a win with a minute to go. Final score: 1-1. On balance, the fears of them being the first host to fail to get out of the group stage seem unfounded.

A couple of other things: the ball really does bounce high; and the slow motion replays are amazing