Monday, June 12, 2006

Day 3 Review

Holland had to work hard to get their campaign off to a good start yesterday with a narrow 1-0 win over Serbia & Montenegro. Arjen Robben took advantage of a defence splitting pass to slot the ball past the keeper early in the first half, but the team in orange were unable to repeat the feat. Serbia had few chances of their own to offer by way of an attack and only looked at their best when trying to prevent further Dutch goals going in.

The win puts Holland in second place in Group C behind Argentina and they next face a tricky Ivory Coast team on June 16th. I wonder if they’ll both wear orange?

Group D began with an exciting match between Mexico and Iran. The Middle Eastern side dominated the early play with some fluid forward movement, but it was Mexico who showed the way with their first decent attack of the game. Iran equalised eight minutes later and everything remained finely balanced until a quarter of an hour from time when Mexico added two goals in four minutes to end Iran’s chances of winning.

Later in the day, Portugal took to the field to face the country they’d colonised until 1975, Angola. It was the first time the African team had played in a World Cup match and it showed when after four minutes, Pauleta gave Portugal the lead.

Angola weren’t to be outclassed, however, as they dealt admirably with Portugal’s attempts at trying to find a second. While lacking a potent striker up front, Angola fought well in defence and midfield as Portugal seemed unable to find any variation up front.

Cristiano Ronaldo was substituted after an hour, and understandably looked disappointed, having contributed much to the game including a header that hit the bar. Figo, predictably, engineered much of the Portuguese moves from the wings, but his goalkeeper Ricardo had to make a few saves as the game went on.

The match finished with Angola claiming a creditable 1-0 defeat against one of the world’s top sides and if they do the same against Mexico in their next match, they won’t be at all disappointed. As for Portugal, they became the latest members of the ‘What went wrong? Club’ along with England and Holland - teams that have started well and faded fast.

Maybe they’re satisfying themselves with an early goal that can be defended for the rest of the game, but from where I’m standing, it looks like a dwindling supply of ideas and ingenuity that’s stopping them scoring more. Their remaining matches should be interesting to watch from that point of view…

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