Day 5: South Korea vs. Togo, France vs. Switzerland, Brazil vs. Croatia
Game 12: South Korea vs. Togo
C Lee 53, J Ahn 71
Si: The disciplined team work of four years ago has all but vanished, Korea played like a bunch of schoolboys more concerned with making a name for themselves than winning this tie. The first half was full of long balls to noone, only when togo were reduced to 10 men was there any rhythm in their passing game. Togo looked threatening in the first half, moving the ball quickly and using their strength to get a yard of space. The goal can be attributed to terrible defending from the 3 Korean centre backs but the three touches from the half way line to the back of the net were all worthy of a better side than Togo. Even with the game firmly under their control Korea struggled to score, relying on speculative efforts, but sometimes speculation does pay off.
Ed: The passing was awful all over the pitch today. In fact, so was everything that everyone did. The only reason anyone won the game was because one of the players was sent off. In particular, South Korea's crossing were so poor nobody could connect with them. More important though was the ill discipline around the box. None of the players were Torsten Frings, so why they decided to shoot at every given opportunity, never mind the angle or distance from goal. I suppose one of them had to eventually go in, and the winner was one of those. No one could keep possession, terrible passes all over the pitch, poor defending for the first goal. Once the Togo player was sent off, South Korea gained some sense of discipline in patiently waiting for Togo to tire, thus giving them more space for their stupid shots on goal. Both teams will return home embarressed.
Game 13: France vs. Switzerland
Ed: France were truly shameful today. Looks like the trend of tepid performances is going to continue from the qualifiers. Of particular concern was Ribery, a player out of his depth. His first touch was poor, as was his running off the ball, meaning he would inevitably lose it. In fact, there was virtually no good passes around the box or runs made. There was no inventiveness from anyone on the pitch apart from some well–placed chips from the decrepit Zidane, although these only came when he could bring his zimmer frame close enough. Switzerland had to do little to stifle the ineffective players and did not have to simply sit back.
Si: The quality of the champions of eight years ago was certainly there peeking from behind a blanket of inharmony, frustration and weariness in the French performance. They were more of a latent threat than an immediate one for most of the game. Zidane still has the touch but no longer the pace or energy to lift a side that hasn't really turned up for a major tournament since 2000. Switzerland fought well, exemplified by Sendoros who was always there to intervene, playing much older than his 21 years. The Swiss attack caused problems from crosses, and will feel they could have exploited the French malaise for two more points.
Game 14: Brazil vs. Croatia
Si: Showing a quality on the ball that few players let alone teams can match , Brazil still had to work for their victory as Croatia balanced defence and attack to make it difficult for the reigning champions. When defending Croatia managed to put 3 or 4 players between the ball and the edge of their box. Only when they backed off did they give Brazil a chance, as they did just before and after half time, Kaka finding the net but Ronaldo grazing the top of the bar. Everyone 'knows' that attack is the best form of defence but Croatia had the conviction to play that proverbial game and certainly had their chances to level the match. Brazil may only play with three defensive players (Dida, Lucio and Juan) but they are no less able than their teamates and won't be easy for any side to break down.
Ed: Brazil are ridiculous. Their passing and ball control were incredible and they can make their long shots work. They can do it, unlike South Korea. Kaka did it. Also the concept of organisation and tactics seemed alien, but here they made it work. Any player could crop up anywhere either dribbling the ball or making an unstoppable run. In addition, they could bring long passing into the game, using surperbly placed precision and expecting the receiving player to receive it dead to control it. Croatia proved stern and exciting opposition. Their positioning was excellent, as was there ability to mark in numbers (you have to against those players.) They kept possession well, even construciting some chances of their own.
Day 5 Summary:
Alcohol Consumed: 14.5 Units