Germany 4 - Costa Rica 2
The host opened this year's campaign in style, scoring in just the 6th minute of the game. Klose hit a brace for Germany, Lahm scored a cheeky goal, and Torsten Frings ended Costa Rica's hope with a stunner.
Costa Rica had not got many chances. But they make most of their chances, with their all time leading scorer, Paolo Wanchope, scoring twice.
Germany's defense looked leaky throughout the game, but they sure made up with entertaining offense.
Poland 0 - Ecuador 2
Ecuador were considered as underdogs in this matchup, but they provided a shocking two nil victory over their European counterpart. The South American have always been tough nut to crack at the homeground, but are not that well-known for major tournaments like World Cup.
I didn't watch the match, and I read little on their post match report. Not much I can say here.
England 1 - Paraguay 0
England started the tournament as one of the favourite to lift the title. On paper, they have one of the most complete squad, which could easily place them among the elite teams, probably just next to Brazil. Up front, they have Rooney and Owen. In the engine room, they have arguably the most talented combination of midfield players in the world - Beckham, Gerrard, Lampard and Joe Cole. Back four also look solid for the Three Lions, comprising Gary Neveille, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Ashley Cole. Paul Robinson is the man in glove.
Without doubt, these XI can really bring the world to their feet, if they're 100% fit. Unfortunantely, Owen has just recovered from broken foot, and lacked match fit. Rooney was also just declared fit by England's staff, but did not feature in the opening match. Gerrard was reported to be bothered by back injury.
Coach Sven Goran Eriksson's selection for the 23-man squad raise world's eyebrows when he decided to take Arsenal's 17 year old Theo Walcott to Germany. The young lad has yet to play a senior game for the Gunners. It was surely THE gamble to take. Personally, I would also question his selection of Peter Crouch over other English strikers, like Jermaine Defoe, Darrent Bent or James Beattie. To me, Crouch was no factor in the 1 - 0 victory over the South American. He was nowhere to be seen in the box for most of the match.
England have reasons to worry about now. If they play through the tournament like how they played against Paraguay, they can start thinking of packing back home. Points to consider, England is playing with only 2 healthy strikers - Walcott and Crouch. Crouch, as I have pointed out, was no factor in Paraguay's match. He was nowhere near how he was reported in Jamaica's match. England's midfields, 4 of them, worked even harder than their sole striker (Owen was substituted after 55 minutes). As for Walcott, I think everyone will agree that it is the gamble which no one would want to take in any major tournament.
Although England opened their scoring as early as the 4th minute (2 minutes earlier than Germany's), they faded out soon after, especially after the half time.
Sweden 0 - Trinidad & Tobago 0
I missed out on this match as well. But I was told this match was far more entertaining than England's match. England will have to watch out when they play against Sweden in their next matchup.
According to Soccernet, T&T's Hislop emerged as hero to the draw.
Argentina 2 - Ivory Coast 1
When you spot the South American on game sheet, you can expect plenty of attacks in the game. Silky skills, fast tempo, highly entertaining encounter, those are what they do best. This match up really lived to its bill. Throughout the 90 minutes, there was non-stop action from both team. The South American and the Africans exchanged attacks from one end to another. They seem to have bottomless gas tank within them.
Much contratory to England's match, the game was upped to the highest tempo ever. Hernan Crespo opened the scoring by tapping in a miss/save in the penalty box. This is what England need at the moment, they didn't seem to have a penalty-box fox. Saviola doubled Argentina's lead after half time before Drogba pulled on back after Ivory Coast's late onslaught.
Argentina was also denied a goal early in the game when the ball clearly crossed the line, only to the keeper to 'pull' it out, and the linesman to rule it as 'no-goal'.
In the end, this matchup was by far the most entertaining one after 5 games.
More to come tonight:
Serbia & Montenegro v Holland 9pm (11/06/06)
Mexico v Iran 12am (12/06/06)
Angola v Portugal 3am (12/06/06)
All comments above are just merely my personal opinion on World Cup teams and matches. It does not reflect any professional point of view, or match analysis. For more accurate analysis, please logon to Soccernet.com or FIFAWorldCup.com
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Germany 4 - Costa Rica 2