Friday, June 25, 2010


It hasn't been a good tournament for traditional European powers. France is out. Spain lost a match. England's scored twice. Germany lost a match, and now it's arrivederci, Italia, as the Italians have been ousted.

Slovakia 3, Italy 2

Robert Vittek scored a brace (2 goals), and the Slovaks have a player with the first name Zdeno, so I'm doubly glad they won this match. Italy, who typically muster the best and most efficient defenses in the world, looked confused and sloppy in their back 4. At least France can point to the loss of Zidane, and the general aging of their stars, but Italy's poor showing is much more mysterious.

Paraguay 0, New Zealand 0

It's been a bad World Cup for Europe and Africa, but a great one for South America. Paraguay qualified for the Round of 16, the 3rd South American team to officially do so. And although they didn't advance, bravo New Zealand. They became the 4th team ever to go undefeated yet not advance (3 ties). They didn't score, but for the 78th ranked team in the world to earn 3 draws is worthy of a parade through the streets of Aukland. Then maybe The Shire.

Japan 3, Denmark 1
It's been a good World Cup for Asia and the Pacific too. Japan advances with a nice 3-1 win over the Danes. Japan and South Korea are both in the Round of 16, while Australia and New Zealand mounted respectable group efforts. If you speak Spanish, or can go swimming in the Pacific, it's been a good World Cup for you.

Netherlands 2, Cameroon 1
The Dutch get overlooked, but they've been the best European side in the tournament. 3 games, 3 wins. They can get goals from multiple directions, a credit to Total Football. Robin van Persie finally scored, and the Dutch will be a real threat in the knockout stage.

Speaking of which, it'll be Netherlands vs. Slovakia on Monday. And Japan faces Paraguay on Tuesday.

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