Saturday, June 10, 2006

Day 1 Review

Well who'd have thought it - six goals in the opening game of the 2006 World Cup, Germany exceeding the expectations of most of their fans and Ecuador turning over Poland in game 2. I defy anyone not to hope that kind of thing doesn't continue right the way through the tournament.

Germany's early goal allowed them to settle down quicker than their opponents Costa Rica and the confidence was soon coursing through all eleven players, but if you've been visiting this blog before, you won't have been surprised by what was to follow.

As written in the previous post ('Your Guide to... Group A'), Paulo Wanchope has been on excellent form for Costa Rica and continues to score frequently. Within six minutes of Lahm's opener for Germany he'd done it again, thus exposing Germany's "decidedly leaky defence" (see 'Your Guide to... Group A').

Look, I hate to brag, but the previous post was also somewhat psychic in it's suggestion that Miroslav Klose would be a significant figure too. Klose's form with Werder Bremen this season came good when he put the hosts back in front a further five minutes on. With an hour on the clock, Klose got his second and Germany's third to make it 3-1 to the home side.

Germany's defence is without question their soft underbelly, and it was exposed again as Wanchope waltzed through their statuesque back four to give the Costa Ricans a second. It was only with three minutes of normal time left that Germany sealed the victory with a goal from Frings to end the match Germany 4 Costa Rica 2.

As for Ecuador v Poland, the game was less exciting - more 'interesting', really. Ecuador are said to play poorly when not at home at the high altitude they're so familiar with, so I for one wasn't expecting much from the South Americans. Poland, on the other hand, had shown a refreshing and accomplished style of attacking play in England's qualifying group, so my money was on them to run out winners.

The thing is, Poland have two teams and you never quite know who you're going to get in a major competition like the World Cup Finals. Would you get that exciting, attacking, care-free side that gave England such a hard time last year, or would you get the Poland side that lost to Portugal and South Korea, as in the last World Cup?

As it turned out, we got the latter last night. As mentioned in the last post ('Your Guide to...' yes, yes, alright, I'll shut up now), Ecuador have been concentrating on beefing up their defence of late and it showed. At times, they had six or seven men at the back and Poland simply didn't know how to get through it.

Fortunately for the home side, Ecuador had managed to forge a couple of decent attacks too, once on 24 minutes when Tenorio headed in a flicked on cross from a throw-in, and again with ten minutes left when Delgado finished off an attack through the tired-looking Polish defence.

Poland did hit the bar and post late on, but it would have been a travesty had those chances gone in. Ecuador deserved to win with their organised defence, and Poland didn't on account of their unimaginative attacking play.

It should be quite interesting when next Wednesday's matches in Group A roll around. Will Costa Rica and Paulo Wanchope be able to unlock Ecuador's back line, and will Poland fair better with Germany's weak defence? I fancy there may be more goals to come...

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