2006 World Cup Finalists Both Crash Out Bottom

Marcello Lippi
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Both of the finalists in the 2006 World Cup, Winners Italy and France have crashed out of the 2010 finals ignominiously finishing bottom of their respective groups.

France who’s campaign has been marred by players who rather than pulling together conspired to undermine the coach Raymond Domenech. Their 2-1 defeat to South Africa ensured that they finished bottom of the group and will ensure Domenech’s reign is not remembered for his achievement in 2006 but rather for the miserable failures 2010 and of Euro 2008 where they also finished bottom of their group.

Italy by contrast didn’t play all that badly but Marcelo Lippi is guilty of botching his tactics against Paraguay and of taking the surprise team of the tournament New Zealand far too lightly. Their final game against Slovakia was probably the match of the competition so far and but for a mistake by the linesman who chalked off a good goal Italy would have qualified. They were also unlucky with an attempt which was cleared off the line and on the balance of play didn’t deserve to lose.  Lippi unlike Domenech will retire with his reputation somewhat intact.

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Spain Look Better Against Honduras

David Villa, footballplayer from Spain
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After a slightly lacklustre performance against the Swiss, Spain got back on track with a comfortable 2-0 win ofer Honduras. Two goals from David Villa were enough and he should have had a hat trick but he put a penalty wide.

Spain now need to beat Chile to be sure of top spot in the group – so avoiding Brazil in the last 16.  

  • Venue: Ellis Park
  • Attendance: 54,386
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    Chile Beat 10 Man Switzerland

    Valon Behrami im Trainingslager der Schweizer ...
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    A goal in the 75th minute was enough to give Chile all 3 points and move them a step closer to a potential last 16 clash with Brazil. Switzerland who had Behrami sent off can still qualify if they beat Honduras and either Spain or Chile win their match, and can at least take something from the game as they now hold the record for longest time without conceding a goal in the finals - 551 minutes replacing Italy the previous holders.

     

    Final Score

    Chile 1-0 Switzerland

  • Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
  • Attendance: 34,872
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    Portugal Put Seven Past North Korea

    Coat of Arms of North Korea
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    The  re-run of one of the most noteworthy matches in World Cup history didn’t quite live up to its illustrious predecessor but still had 7 goals.

    Back in 1966 North Korea who had knocked Italy out in the earlier stages led Portugal 3-0 before 4 second half Eusebio goals crowned a tremendous 5-3 win. This time North Korea came with a game plan to contain Portugal and up to half time when they only trailed 1-0 it looked like succeeding. However they fell apart in the second half and Portugal hit 6 more goals to rack up by far the biggest tournament win to date.

    Portugal now look strong favourites to clinch the runners up place and join Brazil in the last 16. There they could meet Spain in an Iberian Derby match.

    Final Score

    Portugal 7-0 North Korea

  • Venue: Green Point Stadium
  • Attendance: 63,644
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    Brazil Book Place in Last 16 With Efficient Win

    El futbolista brasileño Luís Fabiano
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    It may not have been the pretty football we have been accustomed to from Brazil, but the marched into the last 16 last night with a competent performance which would indicate they still remain the team to beat in the World Cup.

    A well taken goal by Luis Fabiano after 25 minutes put Brazil on course for the win and he added another in the second half, which shouldn’t have stood as he committed two hand balls in the build up to the shot. Then in the 62nd minute a rare flash of brilliance by Kaka saw his lovely cross tapped into the net by Elano.

    At 3-0 down the Ivory Coast had little choice but to change their formation and push forwards and they got a deserved consolation goal when Drogba timed his run to perfection and headed home Yaya Toure’s cross.

    Sadly the game was marred by some blatant cheating by Abdelkader Keita who after innocuously running into Kaka proceeded to roll around holding his face, convincing the referee that Kaka had struck him. This resulted in a second Yellow card for Kaka and the resulting Red card means he will be suspended for the final group game. The slow motion replay showed that no facial contact occurred and any contact at all was accidental. Abdelkader Keita should hang his head in shame for such a disgraceful display of gamesmanship and the hope is that FIFA see sense and ban the cheat from international football. 

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    New Zealands Finest Hour (& a Half)

    Shane Smeltz at a Wellington Phoenix warm up game.
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    In what will probably go down in history as the biggest shock of the 2010 World Cup Finals New Zealand held the reigning Champions Italy to a 1-1- draw in Nelspruit today. It could have been even worse for Italy as they had to rely on a slightly harsh penalty to draw level and now face the very real possibility that they could miss out on the second stages.

    In the game New Zealsnd started brightly and in the 7th minute Shane Smeltz (right)who’s UK football craeer was spent with Non League clubs Mansfield, AFC Wimbledon and Halifax Town stole in to score the opening goal following a lucky deflection off of an Italian defender.   

    The goal might have been a touch fortunate, but the Italian equaliser was equally as lucky coming from the penalty spot when Daniele De Rossi impressively fell over in the box having hardly been touched. Vincenzo Iaquinta slotted the spot kick home with the minimum of fuss and with an hour to go Italy must have expected to go on to win with ease.

    However despite dominating the play Italy failed to find a way through the determined New Zealand defense and it was no surprise that defender Winston Reid was voted ITV man of the match. Having headed the equaliser in the previous game against Slovakia, Reid will no doubt be gaining the attention of some of Europes bigger clubs.

    The magnitude of this result was personified when Andrew Barron came on as a sub in the last few moments of injury time. He currently works in a Bank and had to ask his employer for time off to attend the Finals.  

    Now Italy will go into their Final Game with Slovakia needing a win to ensure qualification and New Zealand will have the chance to achieve the unthinkable, a place in the last 16 if they can somehow beat Paraguay.

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    Paraguay Close In On Place In Last 16

    2010 FIFA World Cup logo
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    A convincing win for Paraguay all but books their place in the last 16 of the 2010 World Cup finals and although Slovakia looked bereft of flair and ideas this will still serve as a warning to their opponents on the second stages.

    Goals from Vera after  27 minutes and Riveros in the 86th were enough to beat a disapointing Slovakia who looked bereft of flair and following their opening draw with New Zealand they must now fear the worst in what is their 1st appearance in the finals as an independent nation.

    The crowd was a disapointing 26,643 which will probably be one of the lowest attendances in the finals.

    Final Score

    Paraguay 2-0 Slovakia

  • Venue: Free State stadium
  • Attendance: 26,643
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    Slovakia V Paraguay Preview

    Official seal of San Juan Bautista de las Misiones
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    Group F is curently all square with both the opening games having finished 1-1 but on their respective showings Paraguay should be good enough to win this game. Slovakia were held by New Zealand who have already exceeded their expectations in getting that point and it is highly unlikely that either Paraguay or Italy will slip up against them. Paraguay on the other hand outplayed group favourires Italy for much of their game and only a tactical blunders by the Latin Americans in choosing to go all out defensive playing 5 at the back too early in the second half which allowed Italy to get back into the game. The expected win here for the Paraguay will practically ensure they are in the last 16.

    Sadly this game doesnt seem to have enticed the crowds and the stadium looks pretty empty just before kick off

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    Cameroon Become The First Team Eliminated

    de: Samuel Eto’o - Inter Mailand en: Samuel Et...
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    Despite taking the lead Cameroon became the first team to be eliminated from the 2010 World Cup Finals. In one of the tournaments better games the Indomitable Lions started brightly and it was no surprise when their captain Samuel Eto’o opened the scoring after 10 minutes when Cameroon took advantage of some lax defensive play.

    Cameroon looked a completely different team from the one who were dest described as awful in their opener against Japan and in the first half an hour looked like taking control of the game. However they were caught out by a lovely Danish break on 33 minutes when Simon Kjaer hit a 60-yard cross-field pass to Rommedahl and his low cross was popped home by Bendtner to level things up. Some more terrible defending could have seen a 2-2 half time score when first Song blocked a Danish goal bound shot and then Eto’o hit the post for Cameroon.

    The second half continued the enterprising style of the first half and both sides had early chances, however the decicive moment came from another swift Denmark counter attack and the impressive Rommedahl sped past  Jean Makoun before slotting the ball home for 2-1.

    Denmark then tightened up at the back and despite some frantic Cameroon pressing were good value for their win which now makes them favorites to progress to the last 16 with Holland,  so maintaining their impressive record of always getting out of the group stages in World Cup Finals they have attended.

    Sadly Cameroon have became the first team eliminated and being from the home nation this ignominity will be hard to take for the home fans. Unfortunately the way the groups are shaping up Africa will be lucky to have any representatives in the last 16.

    The result also ensured that Holland would definitely make the last 16 so Cameroon will have the chance of redeeming some pride in their final match which will probably be against Hollands reserves.

    Final Score

    Cameroon 1-2 Denmark

  • Venue: Loftus Versfeld Stadium
  • Attendance: 38,704
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    10 Man Australia Keep Their World Cup Chances Alive

    Media conference
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    Australia had a man sent off for the second game in a row but despite this handicap they gained a well deserved draw to keep their hopes of qualification alive.

    In a hugely entertaining game Australia took a 1-0 lead through Brett Holman and looked like making swift amends for their opening hammering by Germany.

    However in the 25th minute their run of bad luck continued as Harry Kewell received a straight red card for blocking a goal bound shot with his arm. Given the power of the shot it might have been a little harsh but the rules gave the ref no choice and Ghana levelled the scored from the resulting penalty.

    The game continued at a frantic pace and although Ghana produced plenty of chances they tended to be long range shots. Like all the African countries there seemed to be a desire to be the hero and on many occasions a pass rather than the shot would have resulted in a much better goal scoring opportunity. Until this tactical naivety is eradicated no African team will consistently be a match for the top European or South American squads.

    Australia probably had the best chances overall and if they can keep 11 men on the field in their final match against Serbia then they could still emulate their feat of World Cup 2006 and reach the last 16. Ghana need a point against Germany to go through and on this showing they will struggle to achieve it given their lack of goal scoring prowess.  

    Final Score

    Australia 1-1 Ghana

  • Venue: Royal Bafokeng Stadium  
  • Attendance: 34,812
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