Another mixed day in South Africa, but an overall pattern is starting to etch itself onto this World Cup: while African and European teams falter and flail, the South Americans are making soccer look as easy as only South Americans can. Today saw convincing wins for Paraguay and Brazil in games that most of us expected to be closer.
But Slovakia lost 2-0 to Paraguay with only one shot on target to its name, and showed an astonishing lack of ambition given the tightness of Group F. Coach
What looked like the matchup of the day between Brazil and the Ivory Coast was similarly one-sided. Brazil easing to a 3-0 lead in the first hour as Didier Drogba began to look more and more isolated up front for Ivory Coast. He took his 79th-minute header well to reduce the deficit to two, but Brazil was able to play the whole game at its own pace, which frequently dropped somewhere close to walking. When it did put its foot down,
Which is not a feat replicated by Italy's frontline, held to a 1-1 draw by New Zealand defenders who played like their lives depended on it as they fought to protect an early lead. A soft penalty put paid to that ambition, but the tie was clung to just as tightly. Italy enjoyed most of the possession but struggled to get close enough to trouble keeper
Paston and left-back
Italy striker Alberto Gilardino hasn't registered a shot on target in 117 minutes on the pitch so far in this World Cup, which had him glued into this spot until
Seven minutes into the day's second match, Italy was 1-0 down to New Zealand. The reigning world champion, for a bit of context, had conceded to the 2000/1 World Cup minnow. Granted, Italy hasn't played like a world champion, and New Zealand has hidden its gigantic odds well, but even the widest of wide-eyed optimists can hardly have hoped for such a good start.
Brazil laid on a feast today and Fabiano's second of the match would have won hands down if the striker had, well, kept his hands down. As it was, a beautiful jaunt past two defenders and an excellent left-foot finish were joined together by a spot of handball. Brazil's third goal, added by
New Zealand coach
"We are aware of our responsibilities as those wearing the colors of our country. Also for those we have towards our fans and countless children who keep Les Bleus as role models. We forget none of our duties. We will do everything individually and also in a collective spirit to ensure that France regains its honor with a positive performance on Tuesday" -- statement from the French football team, after refusing to train in protest as
Of the teams to have played two matches so far, New Zealand has registered the fewest shots: 11. Mind you, it still has more points than France and as many as England ...
Elano was stretchered off in the second half of Brazil's win over Ivory Coast with what looked like a serious injury to his right shin.
Switzerland could have
Portugal and North Korea haven't met since their epic quarterfinal encounter in 1966, when the Koreans took an unlikely 3-0 lead before being torn apart by
Tomorrow's evening kick-off sees Spain -- shocked from its first match defeat but in nothing like the disarray seen elsewhere in Europe -- play Honduras. Spain was slated for the lack of imagination it showed against Switzerland, but the defeat was only its second in 49 matches. The Hondurans battled admirably with Chile's pacy forwards, but may be the unlucky victims of a demonstrative comeback performance from Spain.