Three quick thoughts after the scoreless draw between Portugal and the Ivory Coast in Group G on Tuesday.
1. The game didn't live up to the hype. This was a matchup of two marquee teams in the so-called Group of Death. It wasn't a complete snoozer, but it was also too tame given the talent on the field. Portugal probably deserves the majority of the blame. Its midfield played too compact in the first half, as if the players were looking for the draw. It got better in the second with the introduction of Tiago and Simao, but you got the sense that Portugal was too afraid of losing to try to seize a victory.
2. Ronaldo needs to STOP diving. Embellishment is part of the game. Players are always going to turn a light knock into an assassination attempt. But what Cristiano Ronaldo did on Tuesday was different. At least twice he went flying without so much as a tap from an Ivory Coast player. His second flop earned a free kick in a very dangerous position in the 73rd minute. Thankfully, none of Ronaldo's acting resulted in a goal, but it gets to a point where his brilliance as a player is overshadowed by his attempts to game the referee. Highlights from the match will surely include his crack off the post in the 11th minute. Let's hope producers also show his dives, perhaps set to circus music.
3. A healthy Didier Drogba would have made a difference. The Ivory Coast attacked well, using the width of the field and its pace to get into the final third. But once there the Ivorians lacked something, and that something was Drogba, the gifted Chelsea striker. He suffered a broken arm just before the World Cup and didn't enter the game until the 65th minute, wearing a protective plastic cast. He never really got into the flow of the game, but did have a dangerous attempt during stoppage time. The Ivory Coast needed more of that.
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