Sportsball (World Cup 2010), Matchday Fourteen

Paraguay 0-0 New Zealand

Awful game of football to watch. No real pressure being exerted by either side. Paraguay were comfortable and NZ were depending on the other game to really provide a shock. In the end, Paraguay were good enough to stroll through a dour encounter and New Zealand never looked like scoring.

Italy 2-3 Slovakia

Italy are out but it’s hardly a shock. As throughout the tournament so far they displayed a lack of ingenuity throughout the field and were slow and uncoordinated. The defence was caught out badly for all three of Slovakia’s goals and it was only after the second went in that the defending champions seemed to realise they were playing for their World Cup lives.

Slovakia are well worth their place in the last 16 but they have some weaknesses at the back that they have to plug rapidly if they are to have any hope of advancing. As for the Italians, this is a stark wake up call as to the status of the national team which needs major revamping. Some new blood across the board has to be introduced.

Denmark 1-3 Japan

Excellent performance from “the Blue Samurai.” I expected they would come out playing for a draw. Instead, we got a display of excellent attacking football. Two great free kicks (though Sorenson’s step to the left was the main factor in the first), and a well deserved third, interspersed by a dodgy looking and dodgily taken Danish penalty.

Denmark had to play for the win but didn’t ever really seem to look like getting it. With the exception of the penalty and Bentdner’s thunderous shot, they posed Japan few problems. Shakey at the back, Japan were always ready to pounce on any mistake.

I’ve new-found respect for this Asian team, which I didn’t really know much about before. Honda is an excellent player and could yet become an all-out star. I’m going to go ahead and predict a Japanese victory, as long as they play like they did today. Paraguay are good, but they’re not this good.

Netherlands 2-1 Cameroon

A nothing game really, with little at stake. The Dutch were the better team and deserved the three points. Some good, innovative attacking play and the defence remains solid. Robben’s return is the big story here and his actions in the Dutch’s second goal clearly shows how much of a valuable player he is.

Cameroon were, as ever, disappointing. They had a brief period of dominance in the middle of the second half, and got a goal out of it. But they never really seemed like winning. They didn’t look too interested. A bad World Cup campaign for Africa’s former star team.

The Netherlands take on Slovakia next and it’s a little hard to call. Slovakia are a good team and they can pose the Dutch some problems. But the Orange defence is rock steady (unlike Italy today) and the Dutch attack is far stronger. With Robben starting, they should have enough to pull through.

David’s prediction/accuracy ratings!

Group E

I predicted      Result

Netherlands    Netherlands
Japan               Japan
Denmark         Denmark
Cameroon       Cameroon

4 Positions right, 2 Qualifiers right

Group F

I predicted               Result

Paraguay                 Paraguay
Slovakia                  Slovakia
Italy                       New Zealand
New Zealand            Italy

2 Positions right, 2 Qualifiers right

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