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Winners and Losers Day 4: In the Doldrums

June 14, 2010

Well, today was a very disappointing day. From the sheer dullness of Holland’s 2-0 over the Danes to Italy’s snoozefest 1-1 draw against mighty Paraguay it seemed like the longest World Cup day ever, and not in a good way. Its likely that our winners and losers are just as exciting, if not more exciting, than the games themselves. Check it out after the jump.

Winners:

Alliteration– with a game between the Dutch and the Danes, alliteration abounds today. My personal attempt is this: “despite defeat of Danes, dull Dutch dumbfounded by disciplined, diligent Danish defending.”

Dutch subs– The Dutch were dull and predictable in the first half against the Danes, but Elijero Elia and Ibrahaim Afellay were a breath of fresh air in the side. They were both active and pacy, and always looked dangerous when they had the ball. That is far more than could be said of Robin Van Persie and Rafael Van der Vaart.

Eiji Kawashima– The Japanese goalkeeper recovered from an early knock to completely deny Cameroon in the second half. As the minutes went by, Cameroon pressure began mounting, but Kawashima held them off until the final whistle, preserving the result for his side.

The United States– It was announced today that Tim Howard will be playing Friday, which is only good news. Marcus Hahnemann is an excellent keeper, but I think we all feel much safer with Tim Howard in goal.

Paraguay– Sure, it wasn’t the shock win it could have been, but it was still a good result that leaves them in a great position with Slovakia and New Zealand still on the docket. They defended doggedly, and occasionally looked sort of dangerous from set pieces.

Roberto Martinez– The commentators in the booth and in the studio were continually congratulating Martinez for signing Paraguay’s Alcantara. Guess its a good thing that he scored a goal rather than conceded one, that would have been an awkward assessment for Martinez to make at half time (as much as I like both Martinez and Wigan, I really would have liked to see it… It would have been hilarious).

Losers:

Anyone who got up to watch the Netherlands/Denmark game– I excitedly awoke this morning, expecting a delightful game full of attacking intent on one side, and intelligent play on the other. For one reason or another that game never happened. Sure, it was an okay game, but it was really disappointing. The Germans looked more Dutch yesterday while dismantling the Australians.

Paul LeGuen– His tactics were so bad that even Ruud Gullit called them out. He did it in a very nice, polite way, but that was just because it was Ruud Gullit. Why wouldn’t you start Alexandre Song? He is one of the outstanding talents on a team that was in the hunt for the EPL title this year. Yes, I’m a little biased on his part, but I still don’t understand why you start an 18 year old with only 6 caps before the player that was voted the player of the tournament during last year’s African Cup of Nations. And then, when you decide to replace Jean Makoun, you put on Geremi instead of Song? Baffling. Clearly he has been spending too much time with fellow countryman Raymond Domenench.

Simon Poulsen– He was probably Denmark’s best defender, BUT he was the one who gave it all away. It is sad to see such a hardworking performance undone by an own goal. He did make up for it to some extent by hacking a shot off the line in the dying moments of the game, but the damage was already done. Until the own goal, Denmark looked set to cruise to a draw. After the own goal they never really looked like equalizing.

Red Cards– After 3 days of seeing a lot of use, they simply sat fallow in the pockets of referees all over South Africa today. Surely a disappointing performance, they hardly saw a touch today.

Italy– They did nothing to defy the dismal expectations of their countrymen and the general public. In fact, if anything, they encouraged them. They rarely looked like getting a goal off of Paraguay, and it took a massive misjudgement from the keeper to gift them their goal (I know, it sounds kind of familiar… like almost every other game in the tournament. Except for the Germany/Australia match.) The news that Gianluigi Buffon, widely acknowledged as the BEST GOALKEEPER EVARRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! went out at half-time with a hamstring strain to be replaced by… errr… some guy. Looks like Cannavaro should be able to get a nice little vacation in before he heads down to the UAE.

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