Daily Cup Check: Day 2
First full day of play in Brazil, and it boy did it contain a storyline or two. And it didn’t take long for me to look like a complete moron. So let’s put our face in and blow!
Mexico 1 – Cameroon 0
Whatever. I know everyone wants to redeem Mexico because they won and probably should have won by a more comfortable margin and blah blah blah.
They caught a break in that they found the one team that looked at Rafa Marquez and the completely pace-less Mexican backline and thought, “Let’s attack that with one striker who’s even older and slower! Go get some Samuel Eto’o’!”
It’s amazing how Cameroon show up with a new European coach every tournament and yet still have all the organization of a game of Duck Duck Goose. What were they trying to do today? They defended deep for most of it, but hardly tried to counter with their speed advantage. When they did go at Mexico they created. When they didn’t they looked helpless. It’s a wonder Mbia didn’t just storm off, such was his loneliness in being competent.
As for Mexico, the bigger challenges await and I doubt Croatia or Brazil saw anything today that will make them think twice. Though I wouldn’t mind going drinking with Mexico’s manager. He looks like a time and a half.
Netherlands 5 – Spain 1
Well this is the story of the day, isn’t it? The cracks in Spain’s armor were there to see if you were looking for them.
The way a high-pressure Brazil team blitzed them last summer in the Confederations Cup. It was the same way Bayern festooned their bed chamber with Barcelona’s intestines in that year’s Champions League.
Gerard Pique has been an adventure all season, Sergio Ramos only knows where he is when he’s yelling at the ref, and there’s a reason Iker Casillas hasn’t played regularly in two seasons. It all came to the fore today.
When you really get at this backline, with Alba and Azpilicueta so far pushed up, and the leaden-footed midfield of Xavi, Alonso, and Busquets, there’s tons of space to be found.
The first two goals were because Ramos fell asleep. The second two were because Casillas looked like he was coming off of quaaludes. The Spanish just didn’t have the energy to keep the ball as much as we’re used to seeing. It used to be when they lost it they immediately got it back. Today, they just sagged off.
And they certainly didn’t have enough to get at the Dutch midfield spraying balls for Robben and Van Persie. Wonder if Javi Martinez won’t find himself in the lineup against Chile. Because Spain have to beat Chile now thanks to their goal difference, and it’s not like Sanchez, Vargas and company don’t come with pace themselves.
That said, let’s be fair to the Dutch who were absolutely ruthless when given the chance and didn’t give the Spanish strikeforce much of a sniff after the penalty, though to be fair a half-fit Diego Costa or a completely broken Fernando Torres isn’t much to deal with.
Luckily if Spain want more dynamism on their flanks or frontline they only have about six guys who could provide it. Won’t help the defense much, though.
Chile 3 – Australia 1
Clearly harder than it had to be when Chile clearly got caught playing with their food. They won’t get away with playing Gary Medel and his stomach rolls in the middle forever, because other strikers will come with more than the one skill that Tim Cahill has.
But they are lightning when they get going. Sanchez’s turn that led for the second caused my esophagus to rupture. Beausejour’s strike was pure class. Chile clearly suffered from a Vidal not at full strength, but that won’t continue. Spain should be worried.
Awkward Analysts Today
Ruud Van Nistelrooy – Awfully quiet, even on mic. Speak up, man! And you find out he scored 150 times for Man U and you wonder if they came from a combined 200 feet.
Santiago Solari – Great suit, much more passionate. And I think he and Roberto Martinez have a thing going off camera.
Player Of The Day
Was only natural that after sandbagging him in the previews, Arjen Robben would be just the latest to shove it up my ass.
He had a slow defense to attack, but lord he didn’t miss. And if Iker Casillas didn’t have his only moment where he didn’t look like he escaped out of some rehab facility on Robben’s volley, it would have been a goal to satisfy you’re deepest sexual fantasies.