World Cup Day TWO: Spain Smashed

After Brazil gave us our first taste of the 2014 World Cup and a hope that there will be more goals than we saw in 2010, the second day (and first full slate of games) let us think that the goals will continue to flow. Some more referee controversy, some rain, a complete demolishing of the world number one, some goals, some questionable defending, some goals, some very waterlogged looking managers, and some GOALS were all part of a fantastic day two. Let’s dive in…

Mexico vs. Cameroon

Mexico vs. Cameroon

The day’s first game with Mexico and Cameroon showed two teams heading in two completely different directions. While those of you only looking at scorelines and thinking that 1-0 should mean that the two teams were fairly closely matched, the actual footage showed one team dominating and one team that looked like 11 players instead of 1 team. Mexico connected passing movements, had constant goal threats, and seemed fairly stout in defense. For anyone thinking Rafa Marquez would be a liability, it will take the more-talented Brazil or Croatia to show any cracks in the Mexican captain’s game. Cameroon seemed incapable of stitching possession together and the hunger that is necessary for any World Cup team to succeed felt like it was completely lacking.

Mexico had two goals wrongfully disallowed (offsides called on a corner!!!), yet they finished a chance in order to snag all three points. Giovanni dos Santos was easily the man of the match, with Chicharito only featuring (and missing a wide-open chance) from the bench. For Cameroon to succeed, they will need to have players willing to attack AND defend…and get something out of Eto’o. For Mexico to continue on and prove that their qualifying struggles were a thing of the past, they will need to just rinse/repeat this last performance…and hope for better referees.

Netherlands vs. Spain

RVP in World Cup vs. Spain

Image: Reuters

In the second match of the day, Spain were expected to start their march to a fourth major trophy in a row…the Netherlands did not get the memo. A match that we could write 3-4 posts on alone, it seemed to be Spain’s day as they settled into a passing rhythm and Diego Costa snagged a (fairly weak) penalty that Xabi Alonso dispatched with class. However, right before the half-time whistle, Robin Van Persie decided to embody the “flying dutchman” (or, some form of dolphin) and place a fantastic looping header into the back of the net. After the teams returned from the halftime talk, the world got flipped on its side.

Robin Van Persie, Robben, and Spain’s constant weakness for lofted balls into the six-yard box means that Spain suffered a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Dutch. Robben continues to defy logic as professional defenders still cannot anticipate the Munich winger’s inevitable shift onto his left foot for a shot, but the balding menace made the Spanish defense (Casillas included) look second rate on multiple occasions. Then, with Casillas completely turned out of sorts (the guy has not allowed this type of scoring rush…ever!), he gifted another goal to RVP (mainly just so Manchester United fans could go “THAT COACH AND STRIKER ARE OURS…SO, ALL THESE POSITIVE THINGS WILL DEFINITELY HAPPEN FOR US AS WELL!”). To be completely truthful, the Dutch could have piled it up to 7 or 8. But, it would not be a comprehensive talk if we did not mention Fernando Torres shunning a chance from all of two yards…he has certainly turned the corner. Man of the match: Robben…RVP may have shifted the momentum, but Robben crushed the Spaniard’s spirit. What…a…game!

Australia vs. Chile

(If our boot-spotting expert Jordon is reading this, now is when he should stop)

Fifteen minutes…we felt like we knew the eventual victor of this game after just fifteen minutes. Chile ripped through Australia for two extremely quick goals that would only continue to serve notice that this World Cup is going to be completely different to the one we witnessed in 2010. While the Australian formation seemed to plan for almost an entire half of empty space between Cahill and the midfield, it just never felt as if it would come together during the first half. However, as anybody that has followed the Australian attacker’s career will know, Cahill can fly. A very slow moving attack from Australia saw Cahill rise above the Chilean defense and head a ball into the back of the net to make the game seem truly interesting!

While the ref may have been a tad-bit whistle happy, we started the second half discovering that Australia might not be the pushover that the first fifteen minutes might have suggested. We also found that Australia’s #7 (Leckie) might be one of the fastest players at the World Cup (at least, this match made him look that way). The second half looked fairly disjointed from both squads, and a goal-line clearance seemed to be as close to a goal as the second half would get. However, after Australia laid siege to Chile’s goal for most of the half, an extra time Chile attack saw the three points secured. While we would have loved to give Lackie the MOTM, (overlooking his propensity for diving) Alexis Sanchez was the key man for this match (with Valdivia a close second).

A fantastic second day that showed that the lack of goals from 2010 would not continue into 2014. 15 goals from 4 matches (17 if you count the disallowed Mexico goals) is a great beginning to this tournament. Only one surprise from day two, but it was easily the biggest possible surprise from the first round of games. While many will point to Spain’s loss on the first game of 2010, that was merely a loss…this was a demolition. What stood out for you on day two? Which commentator or half-time pundit are you already tired of?

 

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About the author: Andrew McCole

 

If I may be so bold to condense my immense personality into two words, it would be: soccer nerd. I love everything about the beautiful game and I tend to reflect that in my writing. I suffer through Liverpool fandom and hope that they will win another title before my wife spreads my ashes at Anfield (considering I'm in my twenties, it seems somewhat likely). Although I also dabble in tennis, teaching, and coaching, most of my free-time is spent writing articles for The Center Circle! Feel free to stalk me on Google+

 

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