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Day 4 of World Cup 2010 on paper looked like the best day of football yet with reigning Champions Italy along with Netherlands, Denmark, Japan and Cameroon all playing, all teams who would be expected to progress through to the next round. But there isn’t room for everyone.
The first game was Netherlands versus Denmark. The Dutch are always a team expected to do well, and with their influential winger Robben ruled out with a strained hamstring it was all hands on deck. Despite the final result, they did seem to miss his attacking presence.
The game itself was not too bad, some terrible defending led to Holland taking the lead just after the start of the second half through an own goal when a Van Persie free kick was deflected into the Danish goal by left back Poulsen. 1-0. This took the wind out of Denmark’s sails and they struggled to contain the Dutch and in the last 5 minutes Holland finished the Danes off when Dirk Kyut was left with a tap in to seal it 2-0.
Continuing my ‘not being able to predict a result to save my life’ theme that seems to be recurring throughout these daily round ups, Japan beat Cameroon. Personally, I was shocked. The Japanese are always well organised, but I for one have never seen that as a substitute for natural flair, which I have always associated with Cameroon. Probably because of Roger Milla and his famous dance.
Former Glasgow Rangers boss, Paul Le Guen made what I would call a monumental mistake when he put Eto’o on the right wing, seeing as he is one of the best strikers of the last few years. Japan took the lead late in the first half through Honda, and despite rattling one off the woodwork later on, Cameroon struggled to equalize, or indeed put up any fight at all. I blame the manager, then again, I would.
Cameroon will now have to win both remaining games against Netherlands and Denmark to qualify.
The big game of the day, and the one I have been looking forward to was Italy versus Paraguay. The current champs have a place in my heart as I have Italian family, and seeing as Scotland never qualify I need a tenuous tie to some other nation. The main problem is that Italy always makes it difficult for themselves. This game was no exception as they went down 1-0 to a very impressive Paraguay set piece that I knew was going in as soon as the ball was curled in the direction of defender Alcaraz who duly nodded it past the 50 million pounds worth of Italian goalkeeper Buffon.
Thankfully, Italy didn’t drop their heads and kept on pushing which paid off after an hour of playing when De Rossi tapped the ball in after the Paraguay keeper failed to clear a corner. The game finished 1-1, and Italy will probably be confident. They lost the first game of the last World Cup and went on to win it. Hell, in 1982, they drew all their group matches and not only qualified for the latter stages, they won it that year also.
Onwards and upwards for the Azzuri.
Day 5 will finally see Brazil play when they take on North Korea, then Portugal meet Ivory Coast and New Zealand play Slovakia. I plan to predict a proper result today, so Brazil will win 4-0, Portugal and Ivory Coast will draw if Drogba is playing and Slovakia will no doubt destroy New Zealand, but in the interest of fairness, I will back New Zealand…