13 June 2010

World Cup 2010, Match Day 3

Today saw several firsts for this edition of the cup: The first blow-out; the first penalty; the first cards for non-fouls; a goalkeeping gaffe to overshadow Green's for England yesterday (and, ironically enough, in the same group!); and the first referee in danger of losing control of the match, albeit not through blowing a major call.

Algeria 0:1 Slovenia — a frightful match not worth getting up early on a Sunday to see. Again, as on match day 1, the officiating was substantially better than the teams... and this time, that proved decisive, as Algeria begged to lose and the officials obliged by sending off a player for truly brain-dead behavior, followed by a brain-dead play by the goalkeeper. The teams share Cs, the officials an A-.

Serbia 0:1 Ghana — Ghana demonstrated that its progression to the knockout rounds in 2006 was not a fluke, while Serbia demonstrated that a team can often be a great deal less than the sum of its parts (frequently the case with a a Raddy Antic-coached side). And Serbia begged to lose with more brain-dead behavior, while again the officials obliged with a well-considered ejection and a well-awarded penalty. C, B+, A.

Germany 4:0 Australia — First blowout of the tournament, and first complete (not flawless, merely complete) performance by one of the teams. Ironically, what this match is most likely to do is turn the remaining matches in Group C (US v Slovenia and Algeria, England v Algerian and Slovenia) into desperate bloodbaths as the US and England try to run up their respective goal differences to avoid finishing second in the group... which always has interesting consequences including the occasional self-inflicted wound (e.g., the Czech Republic in 2006). On the other hand, the Mexican officiating crew showed that it isn't precisely incompetent, but neither is it a credit to this cup. A, C, C.

As I suspected, the UK papers haven't yet acknowledged that the third-string US goalkeeper is almost certainly better than any of the three goalkeepers in the England squad... or that the US largely outplayed England, certainly for the middle hour of the match. It sort of reminds one of the British approach at the beginning of the Second Thirty Years War: "There's nothing that continued mindless optmism and a willingness to accept unnecessary casualties cannot overcome."