The Netherlands were a favorite that actually won -- Andy Mead /YCJ
Every team has now played one game at the World Cup. The games have been defined by tense, defensive, play, a scarcity of goals, and soccer purists defending the simple beauty of a draw. In other words, the world cup so far just hasn't been all that good.
And then the Swiss beat Spain.
Spain is a terrific team and had earned the right to be considered one of the favorites of the tournament, along with Brazil. They could very well play, but the chances of playing in the first round of the knockouts, not the last, has increased dramatically.
La Furia Roja has a relentless attack. We all can see the waves of playmakers to the goal mouth. But how effective is that attack when they fall behind? Spain hasn't lost much at all over the past four years, so they haven't had to find out. They fell behind only once since the last world cup. They couldn't punch through the US, and they couldn't punch through the Swiss today.
They get the Catrachos next. Will Spain up their goal differential, or will they make their fans suffer yet again. Here's hoping that David Suazo is fit enough to give the Spaniards something to think about. Honduras was very timid today against Chile. They played like the Concacaf minnows the whole world thinks they are instead of the fearless pests we know they can be. I sure hope they take the governor off against Spain.
Brazil did just enough to get by a plucky North Korea team that served notice that just because they are the weakest team in the group, they won't be a pushover. The saddest display of the tournament so far was the forgettable draw between the Cote d'Ivoire and Portugal. Teams with that much talent should never have to play not to lose.
Winston Reid's goal is Exhibit A of why the World Cup is so special. The Kiwis don't have much of a chance to advance out of Group F, but they are still alive for now. And the point they earned against Slovakia was their biggest achievement in their footie history. They might well lose their next two matches, but they have that injury time stunner forever. Italy is off to their patented slow start, which probably means they have a 5 to 6 game run in them. But they will have to do it without GiGi Buffon, who looks to be out for a few weeks.
Holland did what it needed to do against Denmark. And Japan got the jump on Cameroon in a slight upset. In one of the more intriguing groups of the Cup, the drama looks to be reserved for the 2nd spot. The Netherlands shouldn't have any problems wrapping up the top spot. But we thought that of Spain, didn't we.
I do find it interesting that out of the 10 wins in the tournament so far, 6 of them have come from non European teams. 2 of those are from Asia. Unfortunately, Concacaf is one of 2 confederations that has not registered a win.
The second match starts later today. South Africa plays Uruguay on one of their National Holidays. Nice scheduling.