Portugal 7:0 People's Republic of [North] Korea The first real blowout of the cup, with North Korea reverting to its FIFA ranking. A somewhat slow, tentative start by Portugal (not that they weren't trying to attack, but they didn't have much verve about themselves) and North Korea actually tried to play some football instead of laying back. That proved a severe error starting about 25 minutes in, when Portugal woke up and just crushed the Koreans. Even before Meireles actually scored, he had clearly decided he was going to do so... and then things were quiet until halftime. The other six goals came in the second half, the equivalent of scoring 42 points in an NFL game in a half and it should have been at least two more, I can't understand how Coentrao missed that sitter (68th minute) or how Ronaldo didn't put away that glorious chance from 18m just after halftime. Credit to the referee for not letting the match get out of control... but he really had little to do, particularly in the second half, other than look to the assistant referee to see whether Portugal had beaten the offside trap or not. Overall, North Korea's tactical plan played right into Portugal's well-known tendencies. A/D/B+
So that leaves Group G looking like this, with one match remaining for each team:
|People's Republic of [North] Korea||0||8|
which creates a very simple situation:
- Brazil is through to the next round.
- North Korea is eliminated.
- Portugal is through to the next round unless Brazil beats Portugal and the Ivory Coast beats North Korea and the results are such that the Ivory Coast makes up a nine-goal goal difference deficit. For that, the Ivory Coast probably needs to rely upon Brazil just absolutely destroying Portugal.
Now on to Group H's second matches.
Switzerland 0:1 Chile A dire match, particularly after the excessively harsh red card against Switzerland's Behrami; it was then just a question of tightening the grip on the match and waiting for a Swiss defender to slip at the wrong moment... which is exactly how South African-born Mark Gonzalez got his goal for Chile. No real credit to anyone here. B-/B-/C+
Spain 2:0 Honduras Villa broke Spain's scoring drought in South Africa (remember, their last competitive match in South Africa was an 0:2 loss to the US that wasn't that close) with a nice individual effort, but tactically Del Bosque's side began the match far too statically... and then evolved into a side in which nobody was willing to do that hard work of marking up and ball-winning; I don't recall a successful Spanish tackle against a man in clear possession in the second half. Honduras really didn't make that an issue, though; a defense that just waited for an error in possession or errant pass was more than sufficient. The referee had a good match. B+/C/A-
So that leaves Group H looking like this, with one match remaining for each team:
which creates a very complex situation with three teams still alive:
- Honduras is eliminated.
- Chile advances with a win or draw against Spain, or if Switzerland draws with or loses to Honduras.
- Between Spain and Switzerland, if both draw Spain goes through (on goal difference); if both win it comes down to tiebreakers between Switzerland and Chile, and Spain will go through (with equal points but better goal difference as to Chile); if one gets a better result than the other, that team goes through.